Getting the most out of your meal plan | The Triangle

Getting the most out of your meal plan

Photograph courtesy of Drexel University

Something that Drexel could do to greatly help its students make the most out of meal plans would be to increase the number of locations where dining dollars and meal swipes can be used.

Currently, there are 71 different locations listed on Drexel’s Dining and Retail Directory page. Of these 71 locations, 64 accept dragon dollars, 52 accept credit cards, 10 accept dining dollars and three accept meal swipes. The fact that dining dollars and meal swipes are accepted at so few places is an issue, especially for freshmen considering they are required to purchase a meal plan.

During my freshman year, I was able to use most of my dining dollars over the course of the fall, winter and spring terms, but I don’t recall using even half of my total meal swipes. During fall and winter quarter, I used most of my meal swipes but since I didn’t enjoy the food that was served at the Handschumacher Dining Center, all of the meal swipes were used at Urban Eatery. Because of the way the system worked, only three swipes could be used in a 24 hour period: one for breakfast, one for lunch and one for dinner. This system worked well enough, although I would have preferred to be able to use them when I wanted.

It wasn’t long before I started to grow tired of eating the Urban Eatery’s food. The food wasn’t bad per se, but it also wasn’t great and like with anything else, I started to grow tired of it after having it enough times. By the end of winter quarter, I had stopped going there entirely. At the start of spring quarter, I had to talk myself into going again so that I wasn’t wasting the meal plan that I knew my parents were paying for. There were so many better options on and off campus that I could go to, and occasional home-cooked meals acted as such a nice change of pace that I elected to completely stop going to the Urban Eatery.

However, looking back on it now, I wish I had at least made more of an effort to force myself into going to the Urban Eatery or maybe the Hans, so that I didn’t let the meal swipes go to waste.

It shouldn’t have been such a struggle to use the meal swipes, but the fact that there were only two real options to choose from would have made it at least a little difficult for anyone to use meal swipes consistently, especially someone who didn’t very much care for the food that was served at either of the locations.

Dining dollars suffer from the same problem as meal swipes. There is by no means an overabundance of options to choose from. Judging from my favorite locations and the ones that I hear people going to the most, Chick-fil-A, Subway, the Starbucks at Lebow and the Northside Market are the most popular places for spending dining dollars. Yet, dining dollars should be accepted at more places on campus, such as Landmark Americana and the Ramen Bar.

To fix this issue, I think that Drexel needs to do one of two things. The first option is to add more locations where meal swipes and dining dollars can be used. These don’t necessarily have to be entirely new businesses and restaurants built from the ground up, they can just be popular places that a lot of Drexel students go to regularly. Chipotle and Blaze Pizza are two examples of this, and they would be at the top of my list for places where Drexel should allow if not meal swipes then at least dining dollars to be used.

The second option would be for Drexel to redesign its entire dining plan system, or just not force freshmen to have to pay for a dining plan.

I fully understand that dining plans are part of how the university makes its money, but I feel that the system could be changed a bit so that the students would  have more options, and could ultimately get the most out of the dining plans they are paying for.