STAFF EDITORIAL: After the math of the meal plan

With the start of the term, The Lawrentian would like to call your attention to some alternative options available to students in regards to food service, notably the Viking Gold debit account.Living on a frugal college student budget, the difference between the right meal plan and the wrong one can be the price of textbooks (which is one area in which students are left no choice). But if there is one thing more important than money, it’s food.

To the student who wishes to avoid surplus meals, wasted money, or higher prices, the Viking Gold option is best. The Viking Gold is a debit account, which is applicable to the grill, coffeehouse and Union Station and, most importantly, allows for year-to-year and term-to-term rollover.

As for the grill credit program, 10th week is always full of frantic grillgoers buying up fridges full of soda and string cheese, still left with excess money to be wasted on unused credit.

Viking Gold, in addition to perks like rollover, also offers users a discount at the coffeehouse and Union Station.

However, those who prefer Downer and Lucinda’s are faced with some high prices. For the “full board” plan (175 meals plus $150.00 in grill credit, more than any student should need to be fed), each cafeteria meal comes to about $5.07. The smaller the meal plan, the more each meal costs: the 132 meal plan rounds out to $6.30 each, 110 meals to $7.19 each, and 77 meals to $7.88. Do you feel that the majority of your Downer’s or Lucinda’s meals are worth $5.03, let alone $7.88? Would your five dollars stretch you further at Downer or a downtown restaurant?

The issue is not as simple as it may appear. While prices still seem steep, students can influence the cost process by following the lead of organizations like the Clean Plate Club and cutting down on waste. Prices are not determined by what students eat, but by what they take.

Some days, if Downer doesn’t have something that looks at all appealing to you and you don’t have an appetite for the grill, have some groceries on hand, or order a pizza. If Downer’s salad bar attracts you, go in with some friends from your residence hall, perhaps, on your own salad bar.

But nobody wins if students go to Downer out of habit, pick at their food, and then go home hungry anyway.

Much of the arguable price inflation is also owed to overhead. In many businesses, cutting down overhead would be the first step towards lower prices. At Downer, Lucy’s, and the Grill, however, “overhead” probably refers to many of your friends’ jobs, and many jobs in the community. On top of that, to keep a thousand-odd people fed is not a task that can be done by only a few.

With all this in mind, The Lawrentian strongly encourages you to keep your economic situation in mind and honestly assess your appetite between now and Feb. 1, the deadline for meal plan changes for next term.

Students should not have to choose between wasting food and wasting money, and with Viking Gold, they don’t.