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Some first-years on West feel large meal plan was 'wasteful,' others are grateful

<p>A quiet Brodhead Center. Duke is making changes to dining this semester to stop the spread of the coronavirus.</p>

A quiet Brodhead Center. Duke is making changes to dining this semester to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

First-year Aden Clemente has a dilemma: too many food points.

“I still have an obscene amount of food points left,” Clemente said. “I think 1400 right now.”

Clemente is one of many first-years living on West Campus this fall who received atypical food plans—with no Marketplace swipes or Trinity Café equivalency—and were awash with food points. 

First-years living on West this fall were assigned Plan G and will be again in the spring. Plan G,  which is identical to Plan C for sophomores, juniors and seniors, provides $3,174 in food points for a total cost of $3,437.05 after tax and a $25 dining contract fee.  First-years living on East Campus have been assigned Plan I, which provides 14 Marketplace swipes a week and $824 in food points, for a total cost of $4158.38.

“The first-year meal Plan I for East Campus is designed for students to have three meals per day… Plan G is based on the equivalent of the three meals per day, as in the East Campus meal plan,” Robert Coffey, executive director of dining services, wrote in an email.

Coffey wrote that along with other stakeholders, Duke Dining attempted to ensure that first-years had sufficient dining funds and that meal plans for first-years living on East and West were equitable.

In order to draw on student input, all of Dining’s policies designed in response to COVID-19, including the new Plan G, were vetted through the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee and Duke Student Government, Coffey wrote.

Some students have chafed at the large amount, especially because they are not able to downsize for the spring semester, while others have been grateful for the generous size of their plan. 

Clemente said he didn’t eat breakfast and he often didn’t use his points on weekends. But he knows many other first-years on West who had either too many or too few food points by the end of the semester. 

Clemente said he has liked living in Wannamaker Quad this fall, enjoying “being in the center of Duke’s campus and having a lot of great food options.” Although he felt that the dining plan for first-years on West was “wasteful,” he said he is going to try to adjust his eating habits in the spring to make use of the extra food points. 

“I’m gonna try to eat three meals a day,” Clemente said.

First-year Brooks Robinson, who also lives in Wannamaker, said he enjoyed the dining plan and has only gradually used up his food points. 

“My food point situation’s really good right now,” Robinson said.

He added that many of his classmates are in a similar situation.

Robinson said Duke dining has done “a pretty good job” allotting food points to first-years. 

“I’m hesitant to say it’s too much because I like having extra food points,” he said, although he admitted that Plan G is “maybe a little too much.”

Asked about not being able to change his plan for the spring, Robinson said he wasn’t worried.  

“I wouldn’t really complain,” he said. “The food plan’s the best part about living on West Campus.”

David Gust, also a first-year student and Wannamaker resident, agreed with Robinson. 

“We have a good location, and we have good food,” Gust said.

Gust said he has not felt that his assigned meal plan has been excessive and that he would not want to change his meal plan if he were able to.

“I can eat however I want to eat and not have to worry about it, which I appreciate,” Gust said. “I’m pretty content with [my meal plan].”

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