Food Services Hopes Meal Plan Change Will Simplify Decisions
If you have a meal plan, you’ve probably heard Penn State Food Services will have a different meal plan setup next fall: three options for meal plans rather than the six currently offered. At first glance, this seems counter-productive. Wouldn’t it be better to have more options? Not necessarily.
“Our meal plan as it existed before was probably too wide as far as breadth of choice,” Associate Director of Residential Dining Jim Richard said.
With six levels so close together, the difference between two levels doesn’t mean a lot over the course of 16 weeks. Students often had trouble choosing between arbitrary levels like four and five because they were so similar, so Food Services hopes to simplify this process by offering three distinct meal plan levels.
Level two will now be the default meal plan, about the equivalent of the old level three. This provides about 12-14 meals each week according to pricing in the all-you-care-to-eat dining commons locations. Level three will be closer to the old level five, providing 19 dining commons meals each week.
For students on a budget, level one will be even lower than the old level one. Meal plans will also maintain their interaction with LionCash. This way, students can purchase level one to begin with and then add LionCash to finish out the semester if necessary, in a sort of de facto pay-as-you-go plan.
“We felt the need to draw a comparator [between the old and new meal plan systems] so parents and students alike can make good decisions on what level they should be on,” Richard said.
Food Services doesn’t have exact numbers yet on how many meal points will be included on each plan, but expects the Penn State Board of Trustees to approve the detailed final plan at its next meeting in February.