Samford meal plan prices are unreasonable

Breakdown of meal plan prices for 2017-2018. Padgett calculated prices with formula price of meal plan/(weeks x meals eaten per week). Graphic created by Caroline Wolfe, opinions editor

 

At the Food Services Town Hall last week, I brought up a very important issue that resonates with many students on campus: meal plan prices are out of control (especially based on students’ needs and what they get in return). If you live on campus, you know that you are required to purchase a minimum meal plan each year based on your class rank (freshmen: Carte Blanche, sophomores: 12 meals/week, juniors: 7 meals/week, seniors: no minimum). However, these meal plans do not line up with the specific needs of many students on campus. Many students at Samford, such as myself, are highly involved in many extracurricular activities and organizations both on and off campus. I personally eat at the Caf as much as I am able to, but my busy schedule typically limits my caf visits to about seven meals/week even though I am required to purchase a 12-meal plan since I am a sophomore. I knew that I was getting a bad deal but was absolutely floored when I ran the numbers and found out the ridiculously high prices that I am paying per meal.

When I shared the results of my calculations at the Food Services Town Hall, the general manager of Samford Dining flat out denied my results (and many other legitimate concerns). Sodexo manipulates its numbers and makes it seem like you are getting an okay deal. However, Sodexo’s numbers are not practical because this assumes that students will never miss a single meal (ever) and that students eat at the Caf over breaks when most students are gone anyway. Much of Sodexo’s profit comes from the fact that students pay for more visits than they actually receive. College is very expensive and stealing our money is absolutely unacceptable (especially since many students have to take out additional loans to pay for their meal plans). Unlike the general manager tried to claim, my math is very straightforward and correct. The simple math goes as follows:

Price of Meal Plan/

(Weeks x Meals Eaten per Week)

For all of my equations, I used the meal plan prices given on the official 2017-2018 Samford Tuition and Fees document found on the Samford website. I did not subtract the $130 of Bulldog Bucks from the price, because, even though Bulldog Bucks are not used in the Caf itself, students are still required to pay for them, and the meals paid for with Bulldog Bucks are still included in the total number of campus meals eaten per week. Also, since Bulldog Bucks represent such a small percentage of what you are paying for, they become miniscule and unimportant relative to the main cost. Additionally, I estimated the total number of weeks at 15 although we have 16 weeks of class plus exams. I used 15 weeks because we have several breaks such as fall break and Thanksgiving break where students do not eat Caf food. Finally, the meals eaten per week represents the average amount of times a student actually eats in the caf (not necessarily the maximum allotment).

Thus the problem is quite clear: Since most students do not eat the maximum allotment, whether by choice or necessity, it is very hard to justify the cost that students are forced to pay. The solution is quite obvious: Students need choice in both what they eat and how much they wish to spend. Ideally, students’ meal plans would consist entirely of flexible dining dollars. However, at the very least, students, especially those whose schedules will not allow them to eat in the Caf often, should have a choice in meal plans and not be forced into paying for an unnecessarily high meal plan.

Heath Padgett, columnist

Leave a comment

All fields marked (*) are required