Students share meal plan concerns

Francesca Barrett

Students who live on-campus are required to purchase a meal plan, usually first-year and second-year students living in residence halls. However, some students shared that Kent State’s meal plan makes eating on campus difficult.

“When I lived on campus two years ago, it was a lot easier (to budget) than it is now,” Connor Hren, a senior marketing major with a commuter meal plan, said. “The prices have gone up ever since (Kent State) signed with Aramark, and everything is about twice the price it used to be.”

Hren said that the meal plan today has changed in prices compared to two years ago, and the daily meal price allotments make sticking to the meal plan budget difficult.

“I think the issue is the university is really starting to focus on healthier food options, but what they don’t realize is that by eliminating the non-healthy options, they’re driving up the prices of everything,” Hren said. “Instead of having enough money for the whole semester, (students) are running out by March in spring, instead of being able to go all the way through into May.”

On the other hand, Lauren Woodbury, a freshman psychology major, said Kent State’s meal plan left her with too much leftover money after her first semester.

“Even though I do still eat three meals a day and snack throughout the day, I’m still not using all of it, at all,” Woodbury said. “And, at least all of my friends that I live with, they are all the exact same way, some of us have over $1000 still left from last semester, and we aren’t on the highest meal plan.”

Erica Dovin, a freshman speech pathology and audiology major, also agreed with the difficulty of budgeting the meal plan allotment.

“I ran out of money last semester with the basic meal plan but, it’s not like I nonstop eat, but if I want three meals – eating breakfast, lunch and dinner – you’re only allotted $17 dollars,” Dovin said. “But sometimes salads can be $12 in Eastway when they weigh them, that’s [only one meal]. So, I think that they don’t give you enough money.”

Dovin mentioned that being a vegetarian, she finds that Kent State doesn’t provide enough variety in their meatless options.

“(Kent State) says they are very big on being healthy, their vegetarian-friendly, but really you have to be an open eater to enjoy the options they give,” Dovin said. “They do have vegetarian options in Eastway all the time, but I think that they should have a daily tofu mix; you can do so much with tofu these days, so they should have more options.”

For freshman fashion merchandising major Samantha Segerman, the cash allotment meal plan wasn’t an issue– her lifestyle and dietary choices were. “I’m lactose intolerant and Jewish, so I eat Kosher style which means I can’t eat meat and dairy together, like a cheese burger, chicken and a glass of milk, pork or shellfish,” Segerman said. “(But) the Kosher eating isn’t as big of an issue (as being lactose intolerant).”

Segerman explained that using meal plan was difficult for her to spend due to many lactose-free options not being available for her to buy on-campus.

“(On-campus markets) don’t sell lactose-free milk, so I contacted Dining Services and the nutritionist on campus and they told me that ‘what they have is what my options are,’” Segerman said. “So, I go off campus once a month and stock up on milk at Acme because they don’t have it (on campus).”

Even with the difficulty of budgeting meal plan allotment, Dovin said Kent State should be open to the idea of changing meal plan to include food-swipe methods for certain meals.  

“I think that the cash (meal plan) is a lot simpler on (the students) part. It’s whatever you eat, you pay for,” Dovin said. “I do think that if you’re hungry for a bigger meal, say for dinner, then (swipes) are perfect because you can go and swipe and get so many options, and you take whatever you feel like eating, it’s just one big swipe versus cash for everything (individually).”

Francesca Barrett is the student finance reporter. Contact her at [email protected].