A commuter’s perspective on meal plans

Commuter students are not required to have meal plans, and not buying one can save time and money.

Chase Andre, Writer

With a half hour before class, I stopped by the Caf today for a quick bite and to see how the old watering hole was holding up. It was only my second time there all semester. You see, I’m an off-campus student and I don’t have a meal plan.

Off-campus students are often questioned when we report we don’t have a meal plan. The long and the short of our answer: there are other ways. Sure, many of us still operate a full 18-unit class load and are on campus as often as a freshman in Stewart. But leaving the dorms means the freedom to leave the constraints of the Caf as well, and many of us do.

Besides the long lines and rush-hour seating shortage, a big reason we avoid Caf meal plans is simply the cost. Knowing there is not much savings between moderate meal plans and the door-price for entry, we forgo the cornucopia buffet for the made-to-order and grab-and-go options provided by Eagle’s Nest, Common Grounds and the Talon.

Most entrees at these eateries range from three to six dollars, whereas a lunch entry into the Caf is over seven. When I eat at the Caf, I feel burdened to get my money’s worth. Let’s just say the freshman 15 stretches past the first year.

To be sure, those of us who give up our meal plans lose out on the community culture of the Caf. Additionally, our menu options are downgraded, and we miss out on Caf specials like the Eat Local Challenge and the Simple 600.

Many feel bound to their meal plan because of financial aid packages, but here’s a secret: off-campus students can cancel their meal plans in the Auxiliary Services building. From there, the money on the account can be utilized to purchase dining points from MyHousing, found under the Student tab on http://my.biola.edu.

Yet, for those of us active-and-over-committed commuters who care about community and on campus events, dining points can always be used to purchase entry into the Caf. But for the other times, to avoid the lines, and for those with the budget in mind, ditch the meal plan.

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