By Katy Shenk
Elm Staff Writer
Washington College’s dining hall is introducing two new meal plans for the spring semester to give students more freedom with their dining options, according to Director of Dining Services Don Stanwick.
Traditionally, the College has offered five standard meal options: the unlimited (unlimited meal swipes + 100 dining dollars + one meal exchange/day), the 19 Advantage (19 meal swipes/week + 100 dining dollars + one meal exchange/day), the 19 Traditional (19 meal swipes/week + 75 dining dollars + one meal exchange/day after dining hall evening hours), the 14 Advantage (same as 19 Advantage with 14 meals/week), and the 14 Traditional (same as 19 Traditional with 14 meals/week).
Dining dollars can be used at Martha’s, Create, or Java George, but meal exchange can only be used at either Martha’s or Create. Both traditional plans allow $5.50 for meal exchange, where both advantage plans offer $6.50.
This fall, Dining Services introduced two new block meal plans. Approximately 60 students enrolled in a block plan this fall. The first is the 220 block + 400 dining dollars, and the second is the 180 block + 500 dining dollars.
The block plans differ markedly from the current offerings.
Instead of offering a set number of meals per week, students receive a total allotment of meals for the whole semester that they can use any time during the day, with a limit of four swipes per day. Both plans also eliminate meal exchanges completely.
“I’ve spoken to students who are on the block plan, and they absolutely love it,” Stanwick said. “They haven’t missed the meal exchange.”
In fact, Stanwick observed that in his two years as director, he’s found that people hate the meal exchanges. Both traditional plans only offer $5.50, which is often not sufficient to cover a students’ exchange purchase.
Students who buy a meal that exceeds the exchange price either pay with dining dollars or with their own money.
“We’re looking at emulating Duke University’s new initiative, where every place on campus has a $5 meal option,” he said.
This would increase the affordability and accessibility of the meal exchange.
Building on the positive feedback from students on the block plan, the dining hall revealed two additional options for the spring semester, including: the 250 block + 300 dining dollars, and the 150 block + 600 dining dollars.
The block plans may be beneficial for students involved in extracurricular activities or with extremely busy schedules.
“We try to set it up where these plans fit students’ needs. This gives them more flexibility, since they can essentially create a customized plan,” Stanwick said.
“Right now, I’m not sure if a block meal plan would be necessary,” freshman Holly Shaffer said. “But as I start taking more classes and work around my field experience, I can see myself switching to a block plan.”
Some students may choose to stick to the more traditional plans.
“I’d have to do the math and see how far 150 or 180 meals would go,” freshman Michael Hershey said. “I don’t really like using flex dollars, and I like the quantity of food the dining hall gets you.”
The new meal plans are open for selection for the spring semester under the WebAdvisor Student Menu. The only students who aren’t able to access the two most recent plans are incoming freshmen.
“We want to make sure that students don’t use all their swipes in their first week. It takes time for them to adjust their eating habits to a college schedule,” Stanwick said.
For students who may need help choosing a meal plan, more information can be found on WebAdvisor and on the College’s Dining Hall website under the “Meal Plans” tab. Additionally, the dining mall offers the myMeals Assistant program to guide students toward a meal plan right for their eating habits.