Insufficient Meal Plan Options

By Theodore Kortenhof

In most cultures, including Western culture, people’s daily food requirements are met through the consumption of three daily meals. Lawrence University does not conform to this standard, as its current meal plan only provides students with two meals per day. This quirky plan leaves students hungry, and should be changed. I propose a plan that gives all students the option of eating three meals per day.

Eating three meals a day is important because it allows students to remain focused throughout the day. When someone eats one meal in the morning and does not eat until dinner, they will not be able to stay satisfied until their evening meal. However, deciding to eat lunch and dinner leaves one hungry in the morning. Three meals per day is the easiest way to ensure that someone does not find themselves hungry during the day.

Hunger can be a major distraction. Remaining focused through a growling stomach is not easy. For students involved in the rigorous classes Lawrence offers, distractions like hunger limit one’s capacity to stay focused, and thus learn. For this reason, it is important that students get enough food and eat on the right schedule to ensure they do not find themselves hungry at inconvenient times. For most, this schedule is three meals a day.

Currently, the vast majority of Lawrence students are required to buy into the $1,600 meal plan, which offers four options. The options are weighted towards either more culinary cash or more meal swipes, depending on the preferences of each individual student. The only people that are in exception to this rule are the minority of students living off campus, super seniors and non-traditional students.

The most meal swipes a Lawrentian can have per term is 150, which comes with $35 in culinary cash. This divides out to 15 meals a week for a 10-week term, providing about two meals a day. Herein lies the problem: 15 meals a week does not allow students to eat three meals a day.

Additionally, 15 meals per week only takes into account 10-week terms. In truth, each term at Lawrence is closer to ten-and-a-half weeks, as finals week after tenth week adds a few extra days onto the schedule.

The other meal plans are not much better. The other plans trade meal swipes for more culinary cash, but the balance is still off. Dividing out the culinary cash per term does not make up the difference of the sacrificed swipes, let alone begin to cover the discrepancy between the Lawrence plan and a standard three meals a day.

Ideally, students would be given the option of a plan offering 21 meals a week, for the 10-week term, and an additional nine meals for the three-day finals week at the end of every term. This would come to 219 meals per term, rather than the maximum of 150 currently available.

The current plan is rationalized by the fact that some students require less food than others. So subjecting the whole school to a meal plan where they receive three meals a day forces some students to spend more for their meal plan than they really need. While this makes sense to a degree, this rational falls to pieces when the concept of a one-size-fits-all meal plan is called into question.

Were Lawrence to switch to a tiered meal plan, it could be better tailored to fit the needs of different groups of students. This would ensure that everyone gets as much food as they need. Rather than subjecting all students to a $1,600 meal plan, plans of varying prices should be introduced. This way, a student that only wants two meals a day could buy into a less expensive plan, while bigger eaters could spend more to get the food they need.

As I previously mentioned, with only a few exceptions, Lawrence students are all forced to buy into Lawrence’s “full” meal plan. Forcing students to buy into a “full” meal plan that does not provide adequate food for everyone is unfair.

I have raised this issue with Lawrence’s campus administration and was told there is not sufficient demand on campus to warrant a different meal plan. I respectfully disagree. I believe that more people than just myself are not satisfied with the currently available meal plan.

This brings me to a call to action. I hope that in reading this, the hungry people of Lawrence are driven to voice their discontentment to campus at large. Were a hungry group on campus to make itself known, it could catalyze the creation of a new and sufficient meal plan.