DDS to offer new 28-swipe meal plan next fall

by Amanda Zhou and Charles Chen | 1/26/18 2:20am

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by Amanda Zhou / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

An “All Access” meal plan — equivalent to 28 meal swipes a week — will replace the SmartChoice 20 this coming fall.

The new plan is transitional and is intended to help move Dartmouth Dining Services away from a meal swipe model toward meal plans with unlimited access to the Class of ’53 Commons by the fall of 2019, DDS director Jon Plodzik said. The “All Access” plan allows students to use a swipe during each meal period of the day, all seven days a week — breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night.

“This [old] model is a problem and we know that,” Plodzik said. Issues that exist under the

current system include the rising cost of a meal swipe and weeks when students run out of meal swipes and must decide between using DBA and spending their own money, he said.

At least for the next year, swipes can still be used outside of ’53 Commons once per meal period. The shift towards unlimited meal swipes is intended to ease the student burden on other campus dining locations such as the Collis Café and the Courtyard Café. The lines at both locations are already long and a possible expansion of student enrollment would only increase the wait, Plodzik said.

“You couldn’t put 1,000 more people into Collis or Courtyard, but you could [in ’53 Commons],” he said.

Meal swipes will also be added to the BlockChoice100 and BlockChoice65, turning the plans into the BlockChoice125 and BlockChoice75, respectively. Fifty dollars of DBA will also be added to the “All Access” and BlockChoice100 plans.

Increases to DBA are used to offset the price for a meal swipe and keep it below the door price to ’53 Commons, Plodzik said in an earlier interview. The current door price is $7.75 for breakfast, $10.75 for lunch and $14.95 for dinner.

Students interviewed, who have participated in DDS’s student advisory meetings, expressed some skepticism over the new “All Access” plan.

Joseph Connolly ’19 said that the new plan simplifies swipes but said the SmartChoice20 already offers enough meal swipes per week.

“What will an unlimited plan really change? I am on the [SmartChoice14], and I never have to worry about swipes,” he said.

As to why DDS is choosing to debut a new meal plan, Rachel Kent ’21 said many other colleges offer similar plans and more traffic to ’53 Commons is always welcome. Although Kent said she often eats at ’53 Commons, she does not see herself switching to the “All Access” plan.

“I do think there are definitely students who could benefit though,” she said. “For some students — especially athletes — the SmartChoice20 isn’t enough.”

The “All Access” plan will effectively cost the same as the SmartChoice20, aside from annual increases to room and board fees, Plodzik said.

Room and board increases are typically around 3 percent a year and capture increased service and food costs, which Plodzik estimated takes up around 75 percent of the budget.

Amanda Zhou | The Dartmouth Senior Staff

All full-time employees, aside from the ones at Collis Café, are represented by the Service Employees International Union, which negotiates directly with the College. He added that DDS also carries expensive products like halal meats and kosher certified foods. Brandon Crosby, the ’53 Commons area manager and a former manager for a dining hall at the University of New Hampshire, which offers an unlimited meal plan, said he thought students and parents enjoyed the unlimited meal access at UNH. He added that at UNH, 85 percent of people at the university — including faculty and staff — choose to purchase a meal plan.

Also planned for the fall of 2019 is a biometric device that will use hand or ngerprints to swipe into dining locations instead of student IDs and guest passes, if all goes well, Plodzik said. In the meantime, he said he welcomes feedback at the student advisory meeting next Thursday, which will take place at 6 p.m. in Paganucci Commons.

Naomi Lam | The Dartmouth Staff