Meal plans unite students and provide nutritious food

About halfway through every term, I realize that my meal plan won’t keep me fed through finals. When I realized this fact as a freshman, I was appalled and freaked out. How would I eat? What would I eat? How did all the upperclassmen not starve when eighth week rolled around? In a state of panic, I immediately went to the grocery store and stocked up on canned soups and popcorn so that I would have something to keep me fed when my meal plan was exhausted.

Looking at my $1,400 bill, I was a bit confused about why Lawrence doesn’t offer a meal plan that could feed me for an entire term. However, after talking with staff members involved in student affairs, I was reminded that the Lawrence community does things differently.

With a few exceptions, everyone lives on campus; upperclassmen are forced to socialize with us underlings. Forcing students to purchase a meal plan is an extension of building up the Lawrence community. As a frugal student who’s trying to avoid unneeded college debt, I’m confident that, had there been a “save your money by opting out of the meal plan” option, I would have chosen it. But in retrospect, some of the best conversations I’ve had at Lawrence have happened in Andrew Commons. Being able to eat with your professors or even your entire class in the commons is a valuable experience that helps create that ever-elusive Lawrence Difference.

At times it may be annoying, but having a limited meal plan forces students to accept that eating food costs money. Yet again, Lawrence is helping students softly transition from living with our parents to living on our own. Budgeting your swipes and figuring out how to eat on a budget once your meal plan runs out helps rid students of the idea that fridges are magically refilled.

The other thing we students have to remember is that Bon Appétit really does provide restaurant-type service. Especially since we’re such a small school, there are an incredible number of options readily available to us in both the commons and the café. Vegetarians, gluten free eaters and even vegans can all comfortably eat in Andrew Commons. Providing food for all the crazy dietary restrictions out there is challenging, but Bon Appétit somehow manages to keep everyone happy and well fed.

Besides just worrying about taste, Bon Appétit does a fabulous job being conscious about the types of food they serve. A quick glimpse around the commons points to signs and food descriptions that inform students about the types of food they’re eating.

Beyond that, Bon Appétit is actively trying to serve us more natural food. Although the majority of students probably don’t think about it when they’re gobbling down their meals, Bon Appétit is going the extra mile to serve us humanely ranged beef, cage free eggs and a variety of other humane alternatives to the traditionally prepared animal products. Beyond that, Bon Appétit strives to serve seasonal foods, fair trade products, local foods and more. Check out their official website to be blown away with everything Bon Appétit is doing to be a classy food service provider.

For me, the bottom line is this: Yes, we are paying a lot for food, but its good food. It’s wholesome ingredients that are prepared the right way; there’s a variety of food to choose from; and it tastes good. So the next time you’re annoyed about running out of swipes or the prices in the café, take a moment to appreciate everything Bon Appétit and Lawrence accomplish by forcing you to have a meal plan.