Cal Dining replaces meal points with meal swipes

Amanda Ramirez/Staff

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Cal Dining no longer offers meal points in any of its meal plans, choosing instead to provide meal “swipes,” which are each equivalent to one meal at any dining commons.

Under this system, after students use up all of their meal swipes, breakfast will cost $8 in flex dollars, lunch will cost $11.25 and dinner will cost $12, according to the Cal Dining website. In comparison, under the previous system, each point had the purchasing power of $1, where breakfast was six meal points, while lunch was seven and dinner was eight.

“The decision was made to be more aligned with the food services other UC campuses offer,” campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff said in an email. “It is important to note that for all Meal Plans, when dining in residential commons, students must use all meal swipes, then they may use their flex dollars.”

Ratliff said that, previously, some students would run through all of their points at the start of the semester and would face “food insecurity” after running out of points.

“Note that we have not raised meal prices in approximately a decade,” Ratliff said in an email. “(B)ut we have had to modestly adjust prices given current operational (ex. goods, labor, etc.) costs.”

Campus senior Grace Mendoza said the current system is much stabler than the point system.

“Even if (students) don’t know how to manage their meal points, they’re still going to get their food at the end of the day and that’s what matters,” Mendoza said.

Campus freshman Paran Sonthalia has the Blue Residential Meal Plan, which is included in the housing contract for the residence halls. Under this plan, students have 12 meal swipes per week that cannot be carried over from week to week, according to the Cal Dining website.

“I preferred it the other way because I feel like then you could rack up points and use them in the future,” Sonthalia said. “This way you only have it for the week and if you miss some on the weekend, it kind of sucks.”

Mario Espinoza, a campus sophomore living in the residence halls, said the Blue Residential Plan is not “worth it” because it is difficult for students to have three meals per day, which is what is generally recommended.

Additionally, Espinoza added that upgrading to the Gold Residential Plan for on-campus students is also not “worth it,” as it costs an additional $600, yet students only receive $200 more in flex dollars than they would with the Blue Plan.

The Gold Residential Plan comes with unlimited meal swipes that can be used at any dining commons, according to the Cal Dining website.

“There’s like so many things that the campus is cutting,” Espinoza said. “It’s really just a continuous problem of like having students pay for what the university can’t.”

Contact Mani Sandhu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ManiSandhu24.