Over the summer, the University introduced significant changes to meal plans, as outlined on the Dining Services webpage. Meal plans consist of meal swipes and points, both of which can be used at any dining facility on campus. Meal swipes are redeemable at the Marketplace at Usdan, Summerfields, Weshop, and the campus cafés, and can be used once per meal period to purchase food. Points, which are each equivalent to $1 at any dining location on campus, can be used to buy food, coffee, or some household goods. Students participating in the Block 250 Plan and All Declining Balance Plan have seen an increase in the amount of meal swipes and points available, while the Premier Plan has not changed since last semester.
The Block 250 plan, available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, increased from 242 meal swipes per semester during the 2022-23 school year to 252 meal swipes for the fall and 290 meal swipes for the spring. This change in the number of meal swipes not only allows those on the Block 250 plan to swipe into more meals at campus dining halls but also helps students and athletes who remain on campus over break better budget their points. The plan still includes eight guest meal swipes and 520 points per semester, the same amount as last year.
Similarly, the All Declining Balance Plan (All Points Plan), available to juniors and seniors, saw an increase from 2060 points per semester to 2260 points per semester, along with the new addition of 20 meal swipes. The Premier Plan, which is the default meal plan for first years, continues to offer access to all four meal periods and 260 points.
“We generally raise meal plan point totals every few years so it was time,” Director of Usdan University Center Michelle Myers-Brown wrote in an email to The Argus. “We also added the 20 swipes to the all points and added the total number of swipes available to the Premier and 250 plan since we changed the time period the meal plans run.”
The change is intended to support those who remain on campus over the winter break period and to ensure that students are able to access meals during breaks, when other on-campus dining options such as WesShop and Summerfields are not open.
The 200-point change in meal plan points in the All Points plan is the most significant increase in the past four years. Previously, points were added in the 2022–23 school year, bringing the amount up from 1980 to 2060 points in the 2020–21 and 2021–22 school years.
In previous years, many students on the All Points plan found themselves eating at Usdan Marketplace more infrequently, as there are many other establishments that take points during the semester. With the addition of the 20 meal swipes, Usdan becomes a more convenient option for those who don’t have the time to cook or are rushing to eat in between classes.
“I like the changes because sometimes Usdan is the easiest and most convenient option, especially for lunch,” Aviva Kaplan ’24 said. “I didn’t know [about the 20 meal swipes] beforehand, but a friend told me today. It’s a good solution because sometimes you just have to go to Usdan, and I don’t think that’s what we should have to be spending our points on.”
Usdan Marketplace is the University’s most traditional college-style dining hall and is a good option for those with stricter schedules and tight breaks in between classes. More meal swipes can create a more convenient experience.
“There’s not always a variety of things [at Usdan] that you can find that either meet the nutritional expectations of protein, carbs, stuff like that, or the things you want as an athlete,” said Jackson Cormier ’26, who is on the Block 250 plan. “Or it’s not always available at convenient times like when you get out of practice. But overall [the meal plan] is pretty good, especially compared to other campuses.”
However, many students were unaware of the update to the meal plans, despite appreciating the addition of meal swipes to the All Declining Balance Plan when they learned of the changes.
“I didn’t know anything about [the addition of meals to the All Points Plan],” said Xiran Tan ’24. “I don’t think there was any notification. Especially now that Usdan [Marketplace meals] are more expensive, it’s more economic to use meal swipes for more expensive meals like dinner or lunch.”
The addition of more points also allows students to splurge on pricier food and drink options at the University.
“I like the addition because I can use my points more at [WesWings] or Red and Black [Café], and it makes it easier to not run out of points,” said Rebecca Drucker ’24.
Students look forward to an easier time budgeting their points and meal swipes and take advantage of the greater options the meal plan changes afford.
Rose Chen can be reached at email@example.com.