Why the NYU meal plan may be one of the worst things about NYU

Budget Killer Qu’est-ce que c’est

According to the New York Times, this school year public school lunches will be free for nearly 1.1 million children in New York City. This decision will make the New York Public School System the largest to offer a free school lunch program to it students.

The free lunch program is only offered for K-12 education and is not a part of private or public university meal systems. College meal plans are unfortunately quite expensive, often costing students more than if they didn’t have a meal plan at all.

For us NYU kids, we are faced with a meal plan that costs a rather absurd amount of money, stretching above $2,000 per semester. Incoming freshman are put into an even more difficult situation in that they must, at the absolute minimum, have a 225 flex meal plan, a plan that provides 225 meals, 200 dining dollars, and costs $2,425 or $22.45 per day. The most expensive meal plan is the 300 flex plus which provides 300 meals, 250 in dining dollars, and costs a whopping $2,790 or $25.63 per day.

Now as a girl on a budget, stealing ketchup packets from Whole Foods and hand fruit from hotel lobbies, I know that $22 or $25 a day on food is kind of ridiculous. And many NYU students feel the exact same way.

“You’d be better off just ordering Seamless every day,” Kevin Muldoon, a senior at NYU Tandon, said. “It’s terribly overpriced and with the amount of unused swipes it’s just inefficient.”

$2,790 worth of cookies and cake

$2,790 worth of cookies and cake

The obscene number of unused swipes is perhaps one of the more frustrating parts of the NYU meal plan since any unused meal swipe is like watching $20 go down the drain. And most students are unable to finish up on their meal swipes. Because sometimes you are drunk and hungry in the middle of the night and no dining hall is open or you have the flu and can’t stomach (literally) the idea of getting out of bed and walking over to a dining hall.

Me trying to plan my meal swipes

Me trying to plan my meal swipes

If you plan well enough in advance you can make it work for yourself, but for most freshman it is a feat that they are simply unable to accomplish. And by the end of the year, swarms of freshman desperately try to sell or even just give away meal swipes so as not to let them go to waste.

“I had so many unused meal swipes that I seriously would load up on unnecessary food in to-go boxes which would go uneaten and unfortunately, was often wasted,” Carson Kessler, a junior in CAS, said. “By your junior year you realize you have two options: choose to bear it in the real world or get the smallest meal plan.”

There is the option of getting a small meal plan such as the 120 flex which is 1,915 or the 95 flex for 1,335, but that still amounts to $17.57 and $12.24 respectfully. And compounded with the cost of extra groceries and food expenses, the pricing still does not work in favor of students.

Many NYU upperclassmen decide to bear it on their own. They build their own meal plan to fit their budget as well as their specific dining preferences.

Trader Joe's: aka the only cheap grocery option

Trader Joe's: aka the only cheap grocery option

“During the summer, I was able to spend about $40 a week on food, because I was cooking for myself,” Rose Li, a senior in Stern, said. “It’s not the most convenient option though.”

Although living without a meal plan gives students the ability to learn how to budget themselves, it takes a lot more time to buy groceries, plan the budget, and cook for oneself. Time that students with a full course load, a part-time job, an internship, and maybe a social life, don’t often have.

There are those NYU students that can afford to spend the money on extensive meal plans and artisan coffee every week. But for the rest, finding a dining option that is both convenient and easy on the budget can be highly frustrating.

Budgeting for me means lots of potato meals

Budgeting for me means lots of potato meals

“Any meal I can get for under $10 is a win for me, “ Perry Ya, a senior in Stern, said. “The meal plan basically averages out to $11 per meal, but if they could get it under $10, I would definitely consider it.”

Perhaps NYU will never be able to offer free meals to all of its students. But a decrease in overall price or a special decreased price for students on financial aid, might encourage more to stay on the meal plan.

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