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(The Takeout)   This just in: college kids will job their meal plans   (thetakeout.com) divider line
    More: Obvious, James Madison University, Food, campus meal plans, Eating, redeemable food option, style distribution plan, soft serve, dining hall  
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973 clicks; posted to Food » on 14 Sep 2021 at 3:35 PM (5 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2021-09-14 11:18:34 AM  
Swiper, no swiping.
 
2021-09-14 12:13:24 PM  
Back in the day, you had to buy a meal plan with X meals, all courses, prepaid, with no refund or rebate. You'd bring in classmates without plans and other outsiders just to use up the plan without any waste.

Did they actually switch to a "pay as you go" system?
 
2021-09-14 12:58:20 PM  
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2021-09-14 1:05:19 PM  

OtherLittleGuy: Back in the day, you had to buy a meal plan with X meals, all courses, prepaid, with no refund or rebate. You'd bring in classmates without plans and other outsiders just to use up the plan without any waste.

Did they actually switch to a "pay as you go" system?


The schools my kids go to are like that.  A couple we went at when they were looking at schools had the pay by item thing going on.
/I did learn that college cafeteria food has gotten a lot better
 
2021-09-14 2:12:01 PM  

johnny_vegas: I did learn that college cafeteria food has gotten a lot better


Eye of the beholder. My son's university looked and tasted better better to me than college food 30 years ago but my eldest had other thoughts. After a semester and a half (thanks Covid) he and friends took a 4-BR suite with a kitchen and he hasn't looked back.

Anyway his school is all you can eat per swipe. They have several different stations, one for salads, one burgers, one for pizza etc. that you can eat all you want. You can also get pay per meal/sandwich at the SU or several fast food or real restaurants just off campus where the school's 4-BR suite apartments are.
 
2021-09-14 3:05:40 PM  
ours was a dollar amount on our ID cards.  i'd have some amount that i'd easily use and use cash for the rest.  campus was in the middle of the city anyway so i'd really only eat on campus if i didn't have time between classes and eat out/groceries for the rest

but there were always a bunch of people who had a lot left on their cards because their parents just threw a shiat load on it.  and it was use it or lose it so they'd just give you their card to go grab something and at most they'd ask for a little money back or free if you go pick up their food for them so i ended up getting a bunch of free/cheap food at the end of the year.  was a definite advantage to go to a school with people with more money than you and neither they nor their parents cared what happened to the money
 
2021-09-14 3:06:35 PM  
also it helps to get to know the people that work there and they let you sneak or just give you shiat for free
 
2021-09-14 3:23:51 PM  

OtherLittleGuy: Back in the day, you had to buy a meal plan with X meals, all courses, prepaid, with no refund or rebate. You'd bring in classmates without plans and other outsiders just to use up the plan without any waste.

Did they actually switch to a "pay as you go" system?


My freshman year (2004-05), we had some weird plan where you got three plan swipes a day, every day. But breakfast HAD to be used before 11, lunch HAD to be used before 3, and dinner HAD to be used before the last on-campus dining option closed at like 11 PM. So if you farked up and ate a late lunch where they swiped your card at 3:01, you couldn't get dinner on the main part of your meal plan, and had to use some of your declining balance meal dollars, which is even less of a big deal than it sounds.

The next year or so, they switched to "3 swipes a day, use them whenever." By my senior year they actually opened up a sit-down steak restaurant that costs 2 meal plan swipes. By this time I was no longer on a meal plan and just cooking food from the Aldi off-campus.

/Yeah, it was a fancy-pants private college that I'm still paying for.
 
2021-09-14 3:45:24 PM  

OtherLittleGuy: Back in the day, you had to buy a meal plan with X meals, all courses, prepaid, with no refund or rebate. You'd bring in classmates without plans and other outsiders just to use up the plan without any waste.

Did they actually switch to a "pay as you go" system?


When I went, you could get that meal plan for like ... double the next tier down.  But the next tier down basically equated to 10 meals a week.

Thank the Student Council, there was a magnificent salad bar, and an 8 lb salad counted as the same "meal" as a 1/2 lb salad.  So I only passed out at the gym once or twice.
 
2021-09-14 3:50:34 PM  
I was certain that dining plans had changed some in the last ...49 years.  We had a work-study person with a printed-out list who'd check off your name as you went through.  Early on, you just told the checker your name.  Soon we enough, they knew.
 
2021-09-14 4:17:47 PM  

Fireproof: OtherLittleGuy: Back in the day, you had to buy a meal plan with X meals, all courses, prepaid, with no refund or rebate. You'd bring in classmates without plans and other outsiders just to use up the plan without any waste.

Did they actually switch to a "pay as you go" system?

My freshman year (2004-05), we had some weird plan where you got three plan swipes a day, every day. But breakfast HAD to be used before 11, lunch HAD to be used before 3, and dinner HAD to be used before the last on-campus dining option closed at like 11 PM. So if you farked up and ate a late lunch where they swiped your card at 3:01, you couldn't get dinner on the main part of your meal plan, and had to use some of your declining balance meal dollars, which is even less of a big deal than it sounds.

The next year or so, they switched to "3 swipes a day, use them whenever." By my senior year they actually opened up a sit-down steak restaurant that costs 2 meal plan swipes. By this time I was no longer on a meal plan and just cooking food from the Aldi off-campus.

/Yeah, it was a fancy-pants private college that I'm still paying for.


When I was in college, it was breakfast 7am-9am; lunch 11am-1:30; dinner 4:30-7.   Difficulty, I played football and practice ended at 6:15ish and you had 50 guys trying to get through 8 working showers and over to the cafeteria before they shut the doors at 7 (and really stopped cooking at 6:30 besides).
 
2021-09-14 4:21:10 PM  
Started college in 1999. The only meal plan offered, I believe, was all you can eat, transferable to any dining hall on campus. So we'd shop the weekly menus for the various dorms and plan accordingly. The food still usually kinda sucked.

One hall offered paninis every Wednesday for lunch. Basically build your own and take it to the staff operating the press. Those were actually really farking good, but the whole damn campus knew it, so you had to allocate an extra 30-40 minutes of waiting in line. We'd even see faculty wander in for those pretty regularly.

Finally got into an old extended stay motel that'd been absorbed into the dorm system, and dropped the meal plan in favor of the kitchenette + the incredibly cheap Thai place down the street.
 
2021-09-14 4:26:59 PM  
At my school you had to swipe your ID card. Usually the student posted to make sure everyone swiped in was bored and distracted and never even glanced at your face, let alone the photo on the card, but every once in a while there was an adult (in this context there's still a distinction even though nearly everyone's over 18) in the chair and you'd better hope you hadn't borrowed your friend's ID to help them use up their plan that day. Our food was really good in the all you can eat per swipe cafeterias, and there was also a takeout model where you got a certain number of points per swipe to use for sandwiches and convenience store type food (the individual pizzas were so very mediocre and so very beloved, the prepackaged sandwiches were terrible, but both far outshone the grape jelly uncrustables). I developed an undying love for Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies thanks to the latter.

I don't think most people felt the need to sneak food out, I think the smallest meal plan you could get was 10 swipes per week and that's pretty decent if you can make it to the grocery store for a box of granola bars occasionally, but my friends all valiantly banded together to sneak me sandwiches and instant oatmeal packets when I was in bed with mono for two weeks. Good times, I guess.

/I miss the catfish nuggets, smiley fries, and seasoned fries on about the same level as I miss the extensive salad bar with two kinds of hummus. Equal opportunity glutton.
 
2021-09-14 4:29:57 PM  
smbc-comics.comView Full Size
 
2021-09-14 5:25:50 PM  
When I was at Carnegie Mellon, all freshmen were required to be on the meal plan. Bring Tupperware. The food really wasn't bad.
 
2021-09-14 5:33:14 PM  

Ambitwistor: [smbc-comics.com image 555x1500]


Leave off the dressing, and that's not a bad appetizer.
 
2021-09-14 5:56:01 PM  
Many years ago, there were a few tiers of meal plans for people in the dorms.  The plan that made the most sense to me was the "13 meals per week" plan.  This meant I usually ate lunch in the cafeteria every day and dinner there every day that wasn't Sunday.  At least once a week, they'd have grilled ham and cheese sandwiches available for lunch.  This was probably unhealthy but was also delicious.  They always had a couple of tables full of matzoh and other stuff made without yeast set out for Passover as well.[0]

All the dorm cafeterias were closed Sunday night for some reason, but this was never a huge problem as there were a ton of restaurants within walking distance.  Breakfast was easy to do without the cafeteria at all, just stash a half-gallon of milk in the dorm fridge[1] and pair some with a box of cereal.

A guy in my KoL clan in 2018 said that things are worse now, because every dorm resident is required to buy a meal plan, and the quality's not great.  Getting a meal plan at all was optional back in the 1990s.  So if you had access to a friend's kitchen or lots of money to spend at restaurants, it was possible to never spend money at the cafeteria.

[0] Lots of Jews attend U of M.  An acquaintance said she eventually changed her religion from "Jewish" to "Druid" in the university's system so that people from Hillel would stop bothering her.
[1] Most of the fridge space was taken up by rum, vodak, and schnapps though.  Priorities, people!
 
2021-09-14 5:58:22 PM  
Here's the dinner menu for this evening at one of the three cafeterias at my sons school.  I just remember a lot of mostaccioli and soup from my days.

HOT LINE
Cilantro Lime Tilapia
Southwestern Style Braised Pork
Penne with Creamy Vegan Ancho Chile Coconut Sauce
Steamed Peas and Carrots
Roasted Zucchini
Israeli Couscous with Vegan Basil Pesto and Tomatoes
Lemon Herb Orzo
Memphis BBQ
Chicken Pizza
Cheese Pizza

TORTA BAR
Beef Milanesa Torta
Pork Carnitas Torta
Vegan Soyrizo and Tofu Torta
Shredded Lettuce
Cotija Cheese
Guacamole
Sliced Jalapenos
Sour Cream
Refried Pinto Beans

FRESH FROM THE FARM
Salad and Deli Bar (Customize for veggie options)
Beef and Lentil Soup
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Tomato, Corn and Bacon Salad with Jalapeno Dressing
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Cotija Cheese
 
2021-09-14 6:07:00 PM  
I don't recall food being an issue in school. Meal plans were cheap and we had $4 pizzas that could be split with anyone who was truly struggling. But, we actually had decent food and a full time cafeteria staff, which I'm told is unusual. The school was less thrilled about students stealing dinner ware than an extra serving of icecream.
 
2021-09-14 7:50:55 PM  
I might have been spoiled, but I went to a college with a work program so every resident student worked for their room and board. I went to the cafeteria when it was open and ate. So did everyone else there. The only time they did any kind of rationing were the occasional steak nights, but at a college with tons of vegetarians, there were still multiple steaks to be had.

We had the hot food line, salad bar, soup bar, cereal bar, waffle bar, and ice cream available for every meal with the possible exception of breakfast- never got up early enough to go to breakfast. The few times I was there for breakfast was because I was still up and most certainly seeing things with an altered perspective.

I got pretty fat in college.
 
2021-09-14 8:46:39 PM  
I spent my scholarship to get in the private dorm because when I had been at debate camp they had some of the best food in the country.

Then my Freshman year they farmed it out to Aramark.
 
2021-09-14 9:36:50 PM  
In the mid 00s it was farking BS. The student workers would hook their friends up (especially on things like wings) and then tell you to finish your plate first. Like you were farking five. Of course when you came back they were "out". One of many reasons my school won't ever get a single penny out of me. Goddam assholes.

/holy hell, I had no idea I was still pissed about this
//priorities!
///other SIUC alums might agree
 
2021-09-14 10:44:41 PM  

OtherLittleGuy: Back in the day, you had to buy a meal plan with X meals, all courses, prepaid, with no refund or rebate. You'd bring in classmates without plans and other outsiders just to use up the plan without any waste.

Did they actually switch to a "pay as you go" system?


When I spent a summer in a NSF program, the college had a fixed price per meal setup.  I'd round out my meals with packaged desserts and take them home on the weekends. At least the ones my roommate hadn't ripped off. Second week, I brought a locking suitcase back.

The short order cook was a riot.  Pampered kids would describe in detail exactly how they wanted their breakfast eggs. The cook would hold up two fingers and say "One or two. Up or over."
 
2021-09-15 4:38:53 AM  

danceswithcrows: so that people from Hillel would stop bothering her


this is actually one of my few regrets from school - I'd been invited by friends many times to the Hillel House cafeteria but never once took anyone up on it. a shame is a me.

really wish I had, because in the early 90s my school was rated "#2 university food in the nation" and they seriously weren't kidding, celebrity chefs prepping udon* once a week, that sort of thing. so now I can only ever wonder what Hillel had.

*oh and I totally still have a set of 6 lovely ramen bowls from those heliotrope times, who knows how that even happened
 
2021-09-15 4:49:29 AM  
also, pffft, these kids are amachoors, pikers even. this is how dining hall thievery has "progressed" in the last 30 years? I weep, seriously weep, for the abject stupidity of our childrens.

one of my friends started out by thefting dining hall chairs (quite a feat, since the only way to leave the dorm* was past the security guard booth) - and then graduated on to stealing entire tables. remarkable man, that guy.

me, the worst I ever did was attempting boxes of cereal into backpack (meh, got caught) but also those times I got all those noodle soup Japanese fancy bowls plus an entire table's worth of half-decent flatware.

our plans were, you had both "meals" and "points", either way was AYCE and swiping your ID let you in for as long as you wanted. so we kind of scheduled classes around that lol, or even skipped classes and just live in the meal hall all day and stuff your face whilst doing coursework. and yeah you could also swipe a friend in when you were feeling generous.

*look, we were lucky and lived in 's Deutsche Haus brownstone down the street, not the horrible dormitory towers (REM even mentioned one building in a song, ha!) where the cafes were based.
 
2021-09-15 6:50:32 AM  

tintar: also, pffft, these kids are amachoors, pikers even. this is how dining hall thievery has "progressed" in the last 30 years? I weep, seriously weep, for the abject stupidity of our childrens.

one of my friends started out by thefting dining hall chairs (quite a feat, since the only way to leave the dorm* was past the security guard booth) - and then graduated on to stealing entire tables. remarkable man, that guy.

me, the worst I ever did was attempting boxes of cereal into backpack (meh, got caught) but also those times I got all those noodle soup Japanese fancy bowls plus an entire table's worth of half-decent flatware.

our plans were, you had both "meals" and "points", either way was AYCE and swiping your ID let you in for as long as you wanted. so we kind of scheduled classes around that lol, or even skipped classes and just live in the meal hall all day and stuff your face whilst doing coursework. and yeah you could also swipe a friend in when you were feeling generous.

*look, we were lucky and lived in 's Deutsche Haus brownstone down the street, not the horrible dormitory towers (REM even mentioned one building in a song, ha!) where the cafes were based.


My brother recently retired from 45 years teaching at uni, or as he describes it:  90 semesters.  His cadre of grad students over the years developed such a reputation that his lab was nicknamed "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves."  He said the worst incident was when he went into his grad students' common area and there was a brand new departmental office conference table and 12 chairs.  It had been intercepted on the way to another department in the building.  He took one look, told them to put it all back, and left.
 
2021-09-15 7:21:20 AM  
"The greatest hack me and my friends would do with meal plans is sneak each other into dining halls. One of my friends had a meal plan, and the rest of us didn't. The one with the meal plan would swipe in and then the rest of us would stand at the emergency exit and they would let us in one by one...."

I guess "hack" just means theft now? Like...is sneaking in the back door of a movie theater a "hack"?
 
2021-09-15 9:37:12 AM  
Always helps to have a friend that works in the kitchen, so he'd bring back lunchmeat, logs of cheese slices, tea machine concentrate, bread
Animal House Food Fight
Youtube hLdO2V1CTF0
and select leftovers. A thrift store clothes iron made grilled cheese sandos right there in our room. Our commons did a decent job, nobody went hungry. Quality wasnt outstanding. Mostly. One week they made something that nobody liked, i forget the exact circumstances but a genuine food fight just...happened. lasted less than a minute but boy the food flew. We got away with it...
 
2021-09-15 9:53:50 AM  
I have a different hack for the local schools dining hall...

I live less than 15 minutes from the Culinary Institute of America and their student dining hall is open to the public. There's two or three stations run by an outside contractor (pizza, burgers, salads, iirc) so when the student run stations aren't open they can still get something to eat. But the rest of the stations are run by the students, and being a culinary school they get top notch ingredients, all prepped by the student chefs. They even have a micro brewery on site (run in association with Brooklyn Brewery).

I don't obviously don't have a meal plan, but dinner and a beer is about $10-12, so it's cheaper than the local diner (which actually made the first season of Guy Fs triple Ds (s01e06)).

It's been closed to the public since covid hit, but I will be eating there again when they allow the public in again
 
2021-09-15 10:48:45 AM  
When I went to school we got a gross amount each term for food and if you didn't spend it all it didn't renew.
I chose meals carefully over the term and had a glut of money left over toward the end. Spent it on various items at a campus shop.
 
2021-09-15 10:50:39 AM  

Omnis_evil_twin: "The greatest hack me and my friends would do with meal plans is sneak each other into dining halls. One of my friends had a meal plan, and the rest of us didn't. The one with the meal plan would swipe in and then the rest of us would stand at the emergency exit and they would let us in one by one...."

I guess "hack" just means theft now? Like...is sneaking in the back door of a movie theater a "hack"?


I'm not feeling much in the way of sympathy for the poor universities.
 
2021-09-15 10:56:01 AM  

Ambitwistor: [smbc-comics.com image 555x1500]


That's my story, but filled with less mischievous glee and more sunken depression and bottoming out blood sugar.  That cafeteria was more joyless than a morgue on New Years.

Aramark.  Not even once.
 
2021-09-15 11:01:15 AM  

natazha: OtherLittleGuy: Back in the day, you had to buy a meal plan with X meals, all courses, prepaid, with no refund or rebate. You'd bring in classmates without plans and other outsiders just to use up the plan without any waste.

Did they actually switch to a "pay as you go" system?

When I spent a summer in a NSF program, the college had a fixed price per meal setup.  I'd round out my meals with packaged desserts and take them home on the weekends. At least the ones my roommate hadn't ripped off. Second week, I brought a locking suitcase back.

The short order cook was a riot.  Pampered kids would describe in detail exactly how they wanted their breakfast eggs. The cook would hold up two fingers and say "One or two. Up or over."


That was one of the few things I liked. If I hustled back after my 8a class I could get in the breakfast line where they did made to-order eggs and omelettes. I'd do a toasted everything bagel sammich with swiss, over easy egg and thick slice of ham. Gooey drippy awesomeness.

Of course my first school that I bombed out of (twice!) had a food court with a Panda, Pepe's, Sbarros, CFA (before the hate) and other awesome stuff. Wednesdays they had a baked potato bar with everything you could think of for <$1. Late 90s prices of course.
 
2021-09-15 12:15:39 PM  
All  I remember of college meal plans is they were a ripoff. And our food mostly sucked, so I paid a lot for salads.

I also usually had a bagel with cream cheese for lunch and that was not included in the meal plan.

Overall, meal plans are a scam meant to enrich the company running them.
 
2021-09-15 2:44:30 PM  

petec: I have a different hack for the local schools dining hall...

I live less than 15 minutes from the Culinary Institute of America and their student dining hall is open to the public. There's two or three stations run by an outside contractor (pizza, burgers, salads, iirc) so when the student run stations aren't open they can still get something to eat. But the rest of the stations are run by the students, and being a culinary school they get top notch ingredients, all prepped by the student chefs. They even have a micro brewery on site (run in association with Brooklyn Brewery).

I don't obviously don't have a meal plan, but dinner and a beer is about $10-12, so it's cheaper than the local diner (which actually made the first season of Guy Fs triple Ds (s01e06)).


oh wow, that sounds awesome, didn't know about the student cafeteria! I've eaten at CIA Copia literally once, and damned if that wasn't among the best meals I ever had (also one of the most expensive lunches ever, lol, but someone else was treating, so...)
 
2021-09-15 4:04:11 PM  
Lol, the stupid frat boy thinks the guy slinging food onto a tray is a chef.
 
2021-09-15 8:31:30 PM  

tintar: petec: I have a different hack for the local schools dining hall...

I live less than 15 minutes from the Culinary Institute of America and their student dining hall is open to the public. There's two or three stations run by an outside contractor (pizza, burgers, salads, iirc) so when the student run stations aren't open they can still get something to eat. But the rest of the stations are run by the students, and being a culinary school they get top notch ingredients, all prepped by the student chefs. They even have a micro brewery on site (run in association with Brooklyn Brewery).

I don't obviously don't have a meal plan, but dinner and a beer is about $10-12, so it's cheaper than the local diner (which actually made the first season of Guy Fs triple Ds (s01e06)).

oh wow, that sounds awesome, didn't know about the student cafeteria! I've eaten at CIA Copia literally once, and damned if that wasn't among the best meals I ever had (also one of the most expensive lunches ever, lol, but someone else was treating, so...)


The local campus has three restaurants and a cafe (cafe is breakfast/lunch only). I think it's one each french, italian, american, but they change names as they update and remodel. I've been to all of them but the prices seemed on par with other higher end places in the area. They also discourage tipping, as the student waitstaff are actually doing part of there course work.

But yeah, they serve some very good grub ;)

/pretty sure the student servers do time in each restaurant, with the fine details getting tougher as they go (I'll leave it to you to figure out the order)
//we love talking to the students
///they really want to show they know their shiat
////we tip anyway
 
2021-09-16 3:02:05 AM  

petec: //we love talking to the students
///they really want to show they know their shiat
////we tip anyway


that sounds (a.) awesome and (2.) seriously classy of you guys. I love that kind of experience.

also lol that reminds me, I need to make a reservation for the wife's birthday (nothing super fancy and not for another month, but me I am consistently a day late and a dollar short. hmmm/grrr, the place she likes is not on opentable, guess I have to call them tomorrow *kicks a rock*)
 
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