Jessai Flores

My days on the full meal plan could only be described as suffocating. 

Determined to make full use of all 21 swipes each week, I would need to wake up at 9:30 a.m. to grab dining hall breakfast. I wasn’t really drawn to the breakfast options on display, and the blueberry pancakes I was promised were only an occasional feature. I paid for Americanos at The Elm out of my own pocket before my first classes started, and sometimes later in the day,

Everything changed when I switched over to the flex meal plan. And I think you should switch to Camp Flex Plan too. 

If you don’t know what the flex meal plan is, it basically offers 14 swipes per week and replaces the deducted swipes with 300 dining points per semester. The dining points can be used at a number of spots on campus, including The Elm, Steep Cafe and Ramen at Becton. 

I don’t regret being on the full meal plan as a freshman last year. I didn’t have a choice but to wake up early for daily Spanish classes. But now, as a slumping sophomore deathly allergic to classes before 10 a.m., I have no need for daily breakfasts. Instead, with the flex plan I am able to get my daily caffeine fix whenever I want to – for “free.” 

Yale Hospitality claims that first-year students can “get the most out of [their] Yale experience” by being on the full meal plan. This is not true. Munching on cold cereals in the Saybrook dining hall had little impact on my first-year experience. You know what did? Waiting in line outside Edon for an hour only to be turned away. Getting body slammed by 6’2 men moshing to ‘Mr Brightside’ at AEPi. Falling off the wooden railings to my top bunk bed in LDub. I do not miss making small talk with groggy acquaintances at breakfast at all. 

I might not be able to convince some of you breakfast evangelists out there to forgo your breakfast swipe. 

But, think of all the unexpected ways that dining points can come in handy. Sudden craving for turkey reuben sandwich? Swipe that card at Steep Café. Don’t have the skills to steal avocado salmon sushi from the fridge? Play it safe and use those points. Many of my friends even have enough dining points to raid The Bow Wow for Yale caps and Handsome Dan plush toys and Yale caps. Some of them carry over their points to the next semester so they can raid more Yale merchandise. 

You don’t always get to spend all 21 meal swipes every week anyways. Most of us don’t have the energy to go to a dining hall with breakfast during the weekends. And as the semester picks up pace, you find yourself waking up later and missing more breakfasts. Some nights, seeing oven-roasted chicken on the Yale Menu app the third time for the week, Junzi and House of Naan beckons. And seriously, who goes to breakfast on the weekends anyways? Replacing these swipes with dining points makes perfect sense. 

I will admit that the 300 dining points per semester does not adequately offset the deduction of 7 meal swipes per week. Let’s dive into the math behind this – consultant style. 

We assume that the meal swipe with the lowest monetary value, the breakfast swipe, comes at a conservative amount of $6. We multiply that amount by 7 days to get the weekly amount and then by 14 weeks to get the total semester amount, which gets us to a value of $588. Even by conservative estimates, it appears that the capitalist Yale Hospitality machine is extracting a surplus of close to $300 from us. 

I’m no missionary for the Flex Meal Church. I see its flaws. But I like to think of myself as a struggling believer. And, if Yale Hospitality sweetens the deal a little bit, I’ll consider going full crusader mode.