Meal plan options overwhelm, but offer variety

UW-Whitewater offers numerous meal plans for students. At first glance, these options may overwhelm or students. In fact, with the number of different meal plan options, many students don’t even know all the possibilities.
In reality, the many options offered by UW-Whitewater Dining Services give students and staff flexibility by allowing individuals to pick the best meal plan for their situation.
There are nine options for meal plans, not including Purple Points or Dining Dollars that come with a meal plan and additional blocks of 10 meals that can be added to My Meals. There are plans the 10, 14, 19 and 24 meals, full and mega Dining Dollars, Apartment 7 Plan, Apartment Dining Dollars and My Meals. Of the students who use a meal plan this year, 42 percent chose to use the plan that provides 14 meals a week, making it the most popular plan on campus.
All of these meal plans are tax-free. Students who use their meal plans are saving 5 percent on the base price. This is on top of the discount students get with the different meal plans. Students who pay with cash must pay the sales tax in addition to the base price.
“If you choose to purchase a meal at a retail location, by that we mean anything here in the University Center or in the academic buildings, if you use your Dining Dollars you get a 10 percent discount,” said Ann Rakowiecki, marketing director for Dining Services at UW-Whitewater. “Were you to use it at Esker Dining Hall, Drumlin Dining Hall, Erbert and Gerbert Bistro or Prairie Street Market, you would actually get a 15 percent discount, plus not paying any sales tax. So, you’re paying 20.5 percent less than what the price would be.”
Taken from the meal plan general information page on the university website, a lunch from Esker Dining Hall, which would cost a student $6.80 if they paid with cash, will only cost $5.78 if paid for with Dining Dollars.
For My Meals, a block of 50 meals costs $325. Doing the math, each meal will cost a student $6.50. Daniel Strandt, a commuter and transfer from UW-Waukesha, currently uses the My Meals plan.
“It’s convenient because I don’t have to get a big meal plan or anything like that,” Strandt said. “I can just get a small block that suits me; 25, 50 or 75 (meals).  But the inconvenient part that I discovered that I really don’t like is that you can use it anywhere on campus, which is good, but you can’t order all the stuff on the menus in some places. You can only get certain items.”
A short survey conducted by the Royal Purple of over 100 UW-Whitewater students and staff asked two questions: “Which meal plan do you currently use?” and “Would you be interested in a single universal meal plan that can be used anywhere at any time by both students and faculty?”
Most participants either used the fixed Meal Plan or had no meal plan at all. Also, the majority of participants said they were interested in a simpler universal plan.
So why not a single, universal plan that could be used by anyone, anywhere at any time? Why does UW-Whitewater offer so many options?
“We offer the options because we know not every student is going to want 24 meals or not every student wants seven,” said Tom Pollizzi, assistant director of Dining Services and Retail Operations. “So the issue we end up running into is when we simplify, someone’s getting a really good deal potentially, and someone’s paying for more than they are using.”
Although the meal plan options can seem complex and confusing, these options create many convenient choices for all UW-Whitewater students, including transfer students, commuters, returning students, freshmen and even faculty.
Those who are still unsure of what meal plan they should be using can make a trip to the Hawk Card office in the University Center.