Grinds My Gears: Hunting for a good meal at a good price
I’d like to start this by saying I’m not a freshman. I transferred here this year and have never had to deal with the struggle of balancing 14 or so meal plans a week to feed myself. I live off-campus, buy my own groceries and have a block meal plan to help feed myself while on campus. But even still, the meal plans here really grind my gears.
You would think a meal plan would be able to satisfy at least one of your meals for the day. Maybe in places like the West Village Commons, or the Newell Dining Hall, this may be true, but the quality and nutritional value of this “meal” is the definition of questionable. While not trying to bash Towson University, I have to be honest when I say I haven’t had a good meal at either one of these dining halls. And good is a weak word for saying I’ve usually had to choke down what I can in order to fill the gaping hole in my stomach caused by multiple hours spent in class.
So after crossing those two dining halls off my list, I sought to aim for the bigger and better of TU Dining. In fact, I have no problem with the food in Susquehanna Dining Hall. Their variety ranges from a New York deli, sushi and even Chik-Fil-A.
Though the Sushi is barely on-par, and the Deli tastes like a homemade sandwich, there’s nothing “wrong” with this. Obviously as college students we’re not looking for a 5-star meal from our dining halls. So I’ll get my Club Midtown from the deli, grab a bottle of water and maybe a banana.
Personally, I would call this a meal. A rather bland meal, but a meal nonetheless. My question is why does it cost me two meals?
Obviously while in college it is our responsibility to learn and teach ourselves to manage our finances, but it is also our responsibility as human beings to realize when we’re being taken advantage of.
The most popular choice for a meal plan, 14 meals a week, costs $2,303 per semester. Maybe less depending on which meal plan you get, but maybe more if you actually want to be able to feed yourself.
I don’t know about all my fellow students, but if I’m grocery shopping for myself, I can feed myself for a year for what most people are spending on meal plans for a semester. But living on campus, obviously students can’t fit groceries for a week in the mini-fridges in our rooms. So Towson technically has a monopoly on the food for students.
Is it really surprising they’re using this power to take advantage of students living on campus?
Towson advertises that their meals are cheaper than if you actually went out and bought the food. That statement is blatantly false.
If you go to Chik-Fil-A and get the Original Chicken Sandwich Combo, including the Maryland food tax, it costs $6.20. In the Susquehanna Dining Hall for a Chik-Fil-A sandwich, medium fries, and a fountain soda it costs $6.92. So it technically costs $0.72 more to get the same meal at Susquehanna.
But they haven’t finished milking our wallets yet, because a meal plan only amounts to $5.60. So to pay for this meal, you either have to use two meal plans (and maybe throw some more stuff you don’t want on your tray) or use those dining points if you even have them that you will eventually, without doubt, run out of.
So you’re technically being forced to spend $11.20 to get a Chik-Fil-A combo you could spend $6.20 for if you just drove to Chik-Fil-A.
Let’s not forget to mention that rounding up there are 16 weeks in the semester. So lets do some fast math. Fourteen meals per week, 16 weeks in the semester, that comes out to 224 meals total.
Two hundred and twenty four meals multiplied by $5.60 per meal, that’s $1,240.50 worth of meals plus $50.00 of dining points for a $2,303.00 meal plan. That’s laughable. There’s no other way to say it. If this doesn’t grind your gears as a Towson student I don’t know what would.