Students waste major meal money

A quarter of students’ meal plans are not used, on average, leaving over 2 million dollars unconsumed.


Infographic by Angelica Abalos/THE CHIMES

Dakota Ball, Writer

As of this year, students use about 76 percent of their available meal plans, leaving a quarter of meals untouched, said Steve Rall, general manager of Bon Appetit.

The income from students paying for meal plans last year totaled over $9 million, leaving about $2.25 million unused by students. Students used an average 73 percent of their meals in 2013, said Don Sims, senior director of auxiliary services.

However, this number increased by three percent due to the meal exchange program, Rall said. Students utilize the meal exchange as a change from the Caf, and as a convenience for when schedules are tight and there is not much time to make it to their next classes.


Biola splits the income garnered by the meal plans between Bon Appetit and the university in maintaining facilities on campus. Because funds go towards Biola’s facilities, like the swimming pool and the fitness center, these facilities are free for students to use, said Carolyn White, manager of auxiliary operations.

The system of “Blackboard” tracks student meal plans and keeps a record of whenever a student eats a meal or pays for something with their student ID, Sims said. Bon Appetit also has their own way of monitoring the meal plans.

“We have daily reports that tell us what meal period and how many kids came for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Rall said.

Bon Appetit employees track when different areas of food become popular around campus, which allows Bon Appetit to compensate for the busiest dining times throughout the year.

Auxiliary services has noticed an increase in the number of meal exchange used from last year –– a change that Sims expects to continue. However, Bon Appetit expects students to miss meals, Rall said. Otherwise, meal prices would skyrocket because there would be so much more food eaten.


Students use their meal plans in different ways around campus.

Joyce Kim, sophomore applied mathematics major, makes sure to use all of her meals every week. She is on the 10 meal plan, and if she knows she will not be on campus for a weekend, she makes sure to use all those meals, sometimes by going to breakfast.

“It is really rare for me to have meals left-over. I don’t like to waste the meals,” Kim said.

Other students have about a quarter or even a half of their meals left over by the end of the semester. Missy Climer, freshman broadcasting major, said she only uses about five of her 10 meals a week.

“I originally had 15, but I brought it down to 10. Usually I don’t have time to eat all the meals, or I’m just not hungry,” Climer said.

Many students with the 10 meal plan use all of their meals. Sarah Thompson, sophomore intercultural studies major, usually uses all of her meals and said she uses the meal exchange program for convenience, but that it does not satisfy in terms of providing a well-rounded meal.

“Since I have a tight class schedule, the meal exchange program is convenient, but it’s not really a meal,” Thompson said.

Many students have a larger numbers of meals in their plans. Emily Teegarden, freshman nursing major, has the 20 meal plan and only uses about 15, which fits under the 76 percent of students that leave a quarter of their meals unused.

“I usually don’t get breakfast on the weekends because I’m never up in time to go and see what is there,” Teegarden said.

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