Webster to switch to single meal plan option in fall 2017

Photo illustration by Melissa Buelt
Photo illustration by Melissa Buelt

Webster University is introducing a new meal plan system starting in the 2017-18 academic year. The “Blue and Gold” meal plan will be the only option for students, and the four meal plan options currently offered will no longer be available.

The new plan operates on an “all points” basis and costs $2500 per semester, including $800 of university overhead. Students can spend $1700 worth in points at any dining services location on campus.

According to Webster’s website, the new plan is designed to offer students the greatest flexibility.

The new plan is equivalent to the current Plan A, but slightly more expensive.

Students get $1700 worth of points in the current Plan A, which costs $2370 and includes $670 of university overhead. The new plan is $130, or 5.5% more expensive on overhead than now.

Students can “buy-up” to add more points after a full meal plan is purchased. Two hundred points are added for every $100 purchased.

Senior Zohra Coday is currently on Plan D, which includes 115 meals and 350 points per semester and costs $2440.

Coday said the all points design is better in terms of flexibility, but the single option constrains people.

Freshman Olivia Osterhage is currently on Plan C, which is the most popular among students.

“It’s weird to change everyone to the same meal plan,” Osterhage said. “It’s harder to manage just points, and freshmen weren’t allowed to purchase all points meal plan in the first place.”

Other changes will accompany this new plan.

Marletto’s will no longer provide its “all-you-care-to-eat” dining option. Everything will be priced a la carte.

“All-you-care-to-eat is how I eat everything,” junior Nick Kromer said. “It’s good because one little plate doesn’t really fill me up for food.”

Kromer has a tight budget for food. If the all-you-care-eat is cancelled, he said he will have to budget for more or get more snacks throughout the day.

Osterhage said she does not pay much attention to price because of the swipes from her meal plan.

“I guess I will have to start looking at it now,” Osterhage said.

Past restrictions, such as meal exchanges or meal combos, will also be eliminated. Points not used during the fall semester carry over to the spring semester, but points not used by the end of the academic year are forfeited.

Kromer said Webster should offer lower meal plan options since it forfeits after the spring semester.

“Different meal plan options give people different budgets, cause if it’s only one budget, you have to pay that $2500,” Kromer said.

The current meal plans prices vary from $2370 to $2570, designed to match students’ different needs.

Prices at Webster are comparable to those at other private universities in the St. Louis area.

At Washington University, the price of meal plans offered for resident students varies from $4124 to $6231 per year. The most popular plan costs $4926, while two semester would cost $5000 in Webster’s new system.

However, other flexible plans at Washington University provides more options not available at Webster.

Their apartment plan designed for individuals who prepare some meals for themselves costs $1856, and the off-campus plan for students residing elsewhere costs $1147.

Fontbonne University offers meal plans by meal count per week or block plans per semester. The price will rise to between $4277 to $4668 in the 2017-18 academic year, according to Fontbonne University’s website.

The average price of the meal plan at Fontbonne is $4474.50. Webster will be more expensive in comparison by $525.50.

Correction: The original and print versions of this story misstated the prices of meal plans at Fontbonne and Washington University; these prices were by year, not by semester. The Journal regrets the error.  

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