Requiring students to have meal plans may help Dining Services improve

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January 17, 2013

10:34 PM

Given the notoriously bad reputation of dining services at the College of William and Mary, students did not meet the announcement that all students in the class of 2015 and every class onward who live on campus would be required to have a meal plan with much enthusiasm. Since that announcement, however, we have been pleased to see Dining Services has stepped up their game.

Requiring on-campus students to purchase meal plans is not rare. Colleges known for their dining services, such as Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech, require on-campus students to have meal plans. The guaranteed money coming into dining services allows these campuses to boost the quality of students’ meals. The College is merely attempting to follow the model set by schools with top-notch dining services. Furthermore, the recent announcement that students will be allowed to select block meal plans means that dining services will better be able to accommodate students who want fewer meals, such as those students living in the Ludwell apartments or Tribe Square.

We cannot praise Dining Services enough for asking for student feedback and trying to respond to what students want. Through the Text and Tell program, Dining Services not only can receive student feedback on the food, but also can make immediate improvements. Students have more options, such as Qdoba late night at Lodge 1 and the Robofusion frozen yogurt machine outside the Student Exchange.

Despite these changes, many students are not pleased to be shelling out money for a meal plan. Even with these new additions, Dining Services at the College is still in a transition phase. The most prominent setback facing Dining Services is the bad reputation attached to its food. Students simply should not be required to pay for doughy pizza, wilted salads or stale bagels. As Dining Services continues to raise the bar for food at the College, we want to see direct improvements to the recipes or ingredients used in preparing the food.

The College must strive to improve the quality of food for all students at the College, especially students with special dietary needs. If gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan students are required to purchase meal plans, dining services must provide varied and high quality options for these students. While serving the needs of all students has been difficult in the past due to a lack of funding, we are optimistic that Dining Services can better provide for all of the students at the College by requiring all students to purchase meal plans.

We want to say thank you to Dining Services for all of the new improvements we have seen on campus. We also want to encourage it to evaluate its current methods for food preparation. These improvements, while very basic, are needed in order to change the student attitude toward the dining halls on campus. The College’s dining services should be on par with those of other state colleges.

We support Dining Services in its current efforts to improve the dining experience on campus, and we hope that it will use its resources to continue to improve the quality of the food served on campus.

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