The University of Kansas Dining Services has changed its dining plans for the 2019-20 academic year, offering three plans that give students a set amount of money on their plan rather than meal swipes.
The three plans are Gold, Silver and Bronze, which students pay for when purchasing the plan. The Gold plan is $2,205 per semester, Silver is $2,133 per semester and Bronze is $1,842 per semester.
“[The dining plans] are no longer made up of a certain number of allotments of meals plus some amount of dining dollars on them,” said Director of KU Dining Services Jim Schilling. “They are now all dining dollars, so the plans are entirely declining balance.”
Instead of having a certain number of weekly swipes, students will use their meal plan to pay $5.50 for breakfast and $8.25 for lunch and dinner at Mrs. E’s, North College or South Dining Commons on campus. The meal plan can be used at any campus dining including the DeBruce Center, the Underground and the Market in the Kansas Union.
The new meal plans also include a $425 Dining Plan Dollars option for students not living in dorms, who aren't required to purchase a meal plan.
“Our goal and intention with these new plans is to do what we can to make it more affordable to dine on campus,” Schilling said.
Any student who has a dining plan or a $425 plan will receive a 15% discount at all 22 on-campus dining locations. Because Beak-Em-Bucks aren't part of KU Dining, the discount won't apply if they're used.
Additionally, KU Dining hasn't increased the price of a meal plan from the 2018-2019 academic year, maintaining a flat rate for each plan. It hasn't had to raise the prices of retail items due to the change in meal plans, with an exception of a 2-3% increase on Pepsi products.
“Things like the world-famous crunchy chicken cheddar wrap that were $5.50 last year, they’re still $5.50 this year, but if you have a dining plan it’s 15% less than that,” Schilling said.
Another change to the new dining plan is the ability to add more money onto an existing plan whenever it's needed. Students who don’t want to spend the money on the Gold plan can purchase the Bronze plan and add money as it’s needed.
Money allotted for the fall semester that isn’t used will roll over to the spring semester, and the remaining spring balance will roll over to the next fall semester, if the student chooses to purchase a plan for the following year. In the past, if a student didn't use all of their meals in a single week, the remaining meals didn't roll over.
“[The dining plan] was the next logical step in our vision to allow students to eat everywhere on campus and make their dining dollars go further,” said Assistant Director of Retail Dining Justin Lee.
KU Dining presented this new plan to on-campus student organizations, such as Association of University Residence Halls (AURH) and Student Senate, to seek feedback and approval.
“We’ve received overwhelmingly unanimous approval for these new plans because I think students get the benefit for them,” Schilling said. “In the past our two biggest complaints or requests from students about their dining plans were, one, ‘Why can’t I just use my plan wherever I want whenever I want?’ And two, ‘Why don’t I get the value of my meals back?’ With this new plan, we’ve eliminated those two complaints.”
Students will be able to check their balance on the KU Card Center website, and their remaining balance will be printed on receipts when the plan's used at on-campus retail locations.
“Our ability to help students manage college expenses is really the key driver behind our change to this plan,” Schilling said. “It’s really important to us that students are able to afford college, and we can control the expense of the food or how students buy the food so that’s why we put these plans together.”