End of semester can mean dining dilemma

Noelle Pennyman

As the semester is winding down, some students may have surprises waiting for them as they look at their meal plan balances on their receipts.

Students are finding they either have more money than they need or not enough on their dining plans to get through the remaining weeks of school.

Sophomore nursing major Kristen Prowant said she has the Lite food plan and is approximately $300 over the amount she is suppose to be.

“I’m never on campus because I am working a lot, and I am always doing something with the Dive and with my church,” she said.

To avoid wasting extra money, she said she stocks up for the following semester or she treats her friends.

“I usually buy things like cans of food that I can keep for the following semester to use or I buy things like pop, chips and stuff like that to take home for my family,” she said. “I sometimes buy lunch or a meal for my friends who live off campus and don’t have a meal plan.”

Prowant said students who have a low amount on their dining plan should become better friends with those who have extra money on theirs.

Kim Leffer, sophomore visual communication design major, said she has the Basic plan, and she has never gone under the amount she is suppose to have.

“I’m not usually not here on the weekends because I work,” she said.

Leffer suggested students who are running low on their plan should not buy a large amount of food at one time because it will end up being a waste.

Whitney Hilson, junior justice studies major, said this is her first semester without a food plan because she moved off campus. She said not having a food plan is difficult.

“It’s just a matter of knowing you always have money for food instead of having to decide between eating or having fun, or eating or gas money,” she said. “Before, I had money to eat and go to the movies, now I can only eat.”

Hilson said she now has to be more considerate of what she eats on campus and how much she spends.

“When I did have the food plan, I would feed all my friends, but now that I’m not on the food plan, I can’t find anyone who has it.”

Joseph Dunn, senior business manager of the FlashCard Office, said if students find they are running low on their plans, they can upgrade their plan either between semesters or up until the first two weeks of each semester. He said students can add money to either their FlashCash or their dining plan.

“They can come here (the FlashCard Office) to put money on, they can put money on through our Web site, they can call and use a credit card,” he said.

The FlashCard Office Web site can be accessed through Web for Students. The site also allows students to view how much is on their dining plan and their FlashCash.

Andrea Spandonis, director of Dining Services, said there is a schedule of how much a student is suppose to have for each week, according to the plan they have, at each dining location and at the Dining Services Web site.

Spandonis said the department can’t tell students how much they can or can’t eat because they don’t know everyone’s eating habits.

She suggested students go to the Dining Services Web site to use the Interactive Dining Dollar Calculator. There, a student can figure out how much they should spend everyday.

She said when students go over or under their advised budget, they might not be looking at a what their budget should be. She said students know how much they can spend a day and they have to make decisions about how much and what kind of food they buy.

Spandonis said the plans are configured based on “what services are expected on campus.” For example, what dining units will be opened and how many hours they are open, how many employees are needed and how much they expect to get paid. Dining plans pay for everything from the plastic silverware to the food.

“Otherwise we would be in a position where we would have to be supported by others,” she said. “Dining Services is not supported by taxes.”

Spandonis said those students who are over or under their budget can talk to her and work out a plan that best works for them.

She suggests students take advantages of the specials at the different dining locations. She also recommended buying fountain drinks instead of the bottled beverages, especially when refills are available, because they are less expensive.

Overall, she said students are right where they need to be. She said she works closely with the FlashCard Office and is able to get anonymous reports on how students are doing on their plans.

“There’s no magic bullet in the answer,” she said. “You just have to choose how much food you eat.”

Contact room and board report er Noelle Pennyman at [email protected].