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Penn Dining’s Meal Swipe Conversion Policy has some students questioning the value of a dining plan.

Until the end of April, any student who signs up for a fall meal plan may convert 10 to 50 meal swipes into dining dollars at a rate of $4.75 per swipe. This value is lower than a meal swipe’s value on any year-long meal plan by a significant margin.

Swipe equivalents range from roughly $8 to $16 depending on the amount of dining dollars included in the meal. Adding dining dollars to a meal plan costs $1 per dining dollar.

Penn Dining did not respond to repeated in-person and email requests for comment about dining dollars.

Locations for students on a meal plan to use their dining dollars currently include 1920 Commons’ retail operations, Accenture Café, Tortas Frontera, Houston Market, Joe’s Café, The Bridge Café, Plaza Café and Mark’s Café.

Williams Café is one establishment on campus popular among students that does not accept dining dollars because it is run by Penn Student Agencies.

On the other side of University City, Drexel offers a similar dining dollar service to students on a meal plan, along with DragonDollars that can be used for food and services like printing, similar to PennCash.

DragonDollars are also accepted at dozens of food and convenience establishments in University City which are closer to Penn’s campus than to Drexel. These locations include Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, Hip City Veg, Fresh Grocer, Baby Blues BBQ and CVS, among others.

In contrast to Penn’s three dining halls, Drexel only has one: Handschumacher Dining Center.

“It’s good to have some dining dollars on my meal plan, but I just wish I could use dining dollars at more places I actually want to eat at,” College freshman Cassie Huang said. “Chipotle, Greek Lady or Sweet Green would be pretty ideal, but I don’t plan on getting a meal plan in the fall anyway.”

“I hardly ever use the dining dollars that I have on my plan,” former DP staffer and College freshman Kendra Hong said. “If ever, I use them at Frontera.”

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