Off-campus students have a new option this year when it comes to dining at Yale.
Yale Dining has unveiled a new meal plan designed specifically for students living off-campus, who are not required to buy a meal plan. Formerly, off-campus students did not have a middle ground between paying per meal in Yale’s dining halls and purchasing a meal plan of at least 150 meals, which costs upwards of $2,325 per semester. Now, these students can purchase a smaller, less expensive meal plan, formed out of collaboration between Yale Dining and the Yale College Council.
Under the new plan, off-campus students can get five meals a week, a block of 30 additional meals to be used at the students’ discretion and $125 dining points to be spent at dining retail locations for $1,100 per semester.
According to Director of Residential Dining Cathy Van Dyke, the plan provides a discount to meals purchased individually through Eli Bucks and is therefore a lower price packaged than was previously offered to students living off campus.
“[The new meal plan] is designed to provide an average of one meal per day throughout the semester while being flexible to student needs,” read a Yale Dining statement Van Dyke provided to the News.
After gathering feedback and holding discussions with members of the student body, the YCC made recommendations to Yale Dining, and together they created a meal plan that Van Dyke said meets all the “preferred requirements” identified in the process.
In addition to receiving five meals per week, which reset each Monday before breakfast service, unused block meals and points will automatically carry over to the next semester and expire at the end of the academic year. The plan can be purchased at a prorated rate throughout the year and, if purchased in the fall, will automatically renew for the spring semester unless otherwise canceled by the student.
“It differs from previous options like Eli Bucks because it is a comprehensive meal plan, and, we are excited to say, is a better option financially for students than purchasing the equivalent in meals individually,” said former YCC project manager Allison Kolberg ’16.
Kolberg said the YCC proposed the core structure of the plan, including the number of meals, the flexibility of the block meals and price breakdown, and then met with Yale Dining to review its feasibility and discuss remaining details. She added that the final product was even more affordable than what YCC initially believed could be implemented.
Still, since the plan is new this term, Van Dyke noted that many students remain unfamiliar with this addition. She added that Yale Dining will send out an announcement to notify students without meal plans about this option.
Kolberg noted that while Yale Dining was very accommodating to the needs of students, introducing the new plan was still a long process spanning nearly two years of research and negotiation.
She said she is pleased with the positive feedback she has gotten, adding that students appear excited about the new option.
“It was great to see Yale Dining make the great effort to meet with us and follow the model that we brought forth,” said former YCC project manager Bechir-Auguste Pierre ’15.
Jenna Kainic ’16, who moved off campus this year, said she elected the new meal option because she believed it may be more convenient to eat in a campus dining hall rather than having to walk back to her apartment due to its distance and the potential weather inclemency later in the year.
She added that while she is unsure of her decision at the moment since she has yet to use the plan, she believes the partial meal option may be beneficial as her schedule becomes busier and said she found the pricing to be reasonable.
Kainic also suggested that Yale Dining could improve the plan by further advertising it directly to students living off campus and by allowing the additional 30 meals and points to be optional, since some may find those extra meals unnecessary. She acknowledged that it is difficult to create a meal plan that caters to every student’s needs.
Still, some students remain loyal to the previous system, citing added convenience and practicality.
“I think Eli Bucks is the most popular option because it’s the most flexible, meals are discounted by 10 percent, and it can be paid using credit card,” said Josh Isackson ’15, who moved off campus this year. “I don’t want to pay for meals that I’m not going to eat, so choosing a meal plan didn’t make as much sense for me, especially when Eli Bucks is such a good option.”
Other undergraduate meal plans include the “Anytime Meal Plan,” “The Full Meal Plan” and the “Any 14 Meal Plan.”