Yale Dining Services is strongly considering changing the times students can swipe for meals, with the possible goal of ultimately placing more students on the unlimited meal plan.
Dining Services officials will likely present a plan to eliminate or blend together time zones — the three distinct blocks of time to swipe in for breakfast, lunch and dinner — to University administrators this spring, said David Davidson, Dining Services director. If new zones are implemented next fall, the next step could be eliminating the 21 meal plan in favor of the unlimited meal plan.
“One of the conveniences of being at home is being able to go to your refrigerator whenever you want, said Bob Junghandel, Dining Services’ director of operations. “Can you imagine if it were on a timer?”
Dining Services may eliminate time zones altogether to allow students to eat whenever they want or may blend the breakfast and lunch zones, allowing two swipes anytime before 5 p.m. and one swipe for dinner.
Currently, breakfast runs from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in most residential college dining halls. Commons is open to all students between those times.
Now, students cannot enter the dining hall more than once in each time block. A student who sleeps in and eats breakfast at 11 a.m. cannot swipe again until dinner time — after 5 p.m. This policy, for many, means no lunch.
Davidson said he realizes the time zones can be a problem. He said the change is very likely for next year, and the Yale College Dean’s Office and the Council of Masters will consider it this spring.
“We want to try to be as flexible as we can,” Davidson said. “We want people coming to our dining halls to eat.”
A large factor in determining the feasibility will be cost implications, which Dining Services is studying. Eliminating or blending time zones altogether might encourage students to eat two lunches or even three dinners every day — which would be quite costly.
Junghandel said Dining Services won’t know until they complete the number crunching. He added that most students may very well continue to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner-like meals — raising no costs.
Davidson said adjusting the time zone plan would be the first step in increasing Dining Services’ flexibility. Students can already achieve ultimate flexibility by signing up for the unlimited meal plan, which costs $200 more per year and allows students to eat as much as they choose wherever they choose.
Ultimately, students on the 21-meal plan might as well pay $200 more to gain the flexibility of the unlimited meal plan, Davidson said.
Dining Services will not push for converting the 21-meal plan to the unlimited plan until next year. For now, Dining Services is focusing on revising the time zones.
Dining Services officials have met with some students on the Dining Services Advisory Committee already but will continue to discuss the time zone plan with other groups.
“It’s a pretty basic resolution, which is why we think it’s strong,” said Katherine Capelluto ’04, a member of the Yale Dining Services advisory committee and chair of the Freshman Class Council, which passed a resolution this month calling for time zone reform. “It does not make such sweeping changes that there would be budgetary problems, but it does increase students’ comfort.”