Sorry, Hill freshmen, but next year you may no longer be able to afford to swipe in for a quick snack.
Penn Dining recently announced a new Dining Dollars only dining plan, as well as a replacement for the current unlimited dining plan. Sign ups for 2013-2014 dining plans for upperclassmen began Monday.
The Any Time Meal plan will be the first ever Dining Dollars only plan, allowing 1,500 Dining Dollars per semester. At a price of $2,950 per year, each Dining Dollar will cost students approximately 98.3 cents with this plan. The plan will be open to upperclassmen only.
Dining Services is also offering an incentive for students to sign up for their 2013-2014 meal plan early. If students sign up by May 7, they will be able to pay the same prices as last year. If not, they will have to pay a higher price. Additionally, early sign-ups will receive an extra 10 guest swipes. Incoming freshmen will sign up for their dining plans on Campus Express in June, similar to years past.
The Dining Dollars only ATM plan was developed by Dining Services largely due to the success of 1920 Commons retail, according to Pam Lampitt, director of Penn Dining.
“The food culture on campus is evolving towards giving students more flexibility about when and how they choose to dine,” Lampitt said. “We felt the time was right to introduce a Dining Dollars only plan for upperclassmen, which would let them take maximum advantage of the retail options.”
Students will also be able to use Dining Dollars at all-you-can-eat facilities at discounted prices. The plan will also accommodate students who wish to eat most of their meals at Hillel’s Falk Dining Commons, which will accept only Dining Dollars beginning fall 2013.
Lampitt stressed that she was not concerned about a decrease in traffic in the all-you-can-eat facilities.
“Residential dining is an integral part of our dining program, and we have many students who continue to value the all-you-care-to-eat options,” Lampitt added.
Similarly, College freshman Emily Marcus, who is going to be on her sorority’s meal plan next year, added, “I think a Dining Dollars only plan is perfect for those who want to grab a quick lunch at Houston but don’t have a need for an all-you-can-eat meal plan.”
Engineering sophomore Giovanni Saldutti, who chose not to purchase a dining plan this year, said that “with this new option, I might reconsider getting a dining plan from Penn.
The ATM plan will not be available to freshmen.
Instead, Dining and Hillel will attempt to accommodate freshman interested in eating most of their meals at Hillel, Lampitt said.
The other new dining plan being offered is the Away From Kitchen plan. The plan will include approximately 19 meal swipes per week, as well as 50 Dining Dollars per semester.
The AFK plan was developed largely in order to replace the EAT plan, which allowed students unlimited meal swipes.
“The EAT Plan was discontinued because allowing unlimited meals created logistical challenges, providing opportunities for misuse,” Lampitt said.
Lampitt explained that the AFK plan was designed through analyzing the eating patterns of students who were “using the EAT Plan the way it was intended.” The analysis showed that students were eating approximately 17 meals per week, so the new plan will provide 19 meals per week, ensuring that “students have sufficient visits to our all-you-care-to-eat facilities.”
Saldutti, who had the EAT plan during his freshman year, thinks that the AFK plan is not an adequate replacement.
“I think this new setup takes away much of the flexibility,” Saldutti said. “When I had the [EAT] plan, I would sometimes use my swipes to just go into Hill and grab a banana or an apple without having to worry about counting swipes.”
“It’s probably bad for students who live in college houses with dining halls, but it seems like a lucrative choice for the University,” Marcus added.
The new plans were developed with a plethora of student input through meetings with student leadership, focus groups, surveys and comment cards, Lampitt said.
“We have used that feedback to inform how our dining program evolves, including, for example, the addition of late night dining hours as well as the development of new meal plans,” she added.
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