App State switching to a swipe-based meal plan policy for 2022-23 academic year

A student stands in front of the Carving Board in Roess Dining Hall as their meal is prepared Feb. 3, 2022.

Taylor Ward

A student stands in front of the Carving Board in Roess Dining Hall as their meal is prepared Feb. 3, 2022.

Andrew Rice, Reporter

Starting in the fall semester, App State will transition to a swipe-based meal plan policy for certain campus dining locations.

The new swipe plan policy will apply to Rivers Street Cafe in Roess Dining Hall and Park Place at the Pond in Trivette Dining Hall. The new system, “dining dollars,” will be used in locations such as Sanford Commons, coffee shops, convenience markets, food trucks and vending machines around campus.

An update from university dining said the All Access meal plan allows students to choose plans “based on their lifestyle.” Dining dollars will remain on a declining balance system that can be refilled at any time. 

“You’ll find plenty of choices among our meal plan options that best fit your lifestyle, budget and schedule.” 

“One benefit of the new meal plan system is that dining costs will be more accurately reflected in the estimated cost of attendance, which is an important metric used to determine financial aid and need-based scholarship support,” said Vice Chancellor of Campus Services John Eckman. 

The new policy will divide the different kinds of plans between All Access plans and Block 50 plans. All Access plans will allow students between 14 and an unlimited number of visits to dining locations weekly and will range from $1,382 per semester to $2,680 per semester in price. Block 50 plans will allow between 50 to 150 visits per semester and will range from $638 per semester to $1,575 per semester. 

“The cost of the current declining  meal plan covers an average of 68% of meals on campus,” said Eckman, “the All Access 7 plan- which offers unlimited visits 7 days a week- will be the plan option that is used to help determine the cost of attendance.” 

The price of these plans, however, appears daunting to some students and campus dining staff. 

“My first reaction when I looked through the plan was ‘wow, this is expensive,’” said  Elana Melvin, campus dining assistant and junior biology major. 

“The system we have now seems to work really well,” said Julia White, freshman cellular biology major. “I love being able to choose from a variety of amounts that I get to spend on campus.” 

First year students will be required to purchase either the All Access 7 or the Weekly 14 plan. All Access 7 will provide students with unlimited visits to Rivers Street Cafe and Park Place at the Pond seven days a week as well as provide students with $250 dining dollars per semester for $2,680 per semester. 

The Weekly 14 plan will provide students with 14 visits per week and $450 dining dollars per semester for a total of $2,314 per semester. Swipes will be reloaded each week but will not roll over from the fall to spring semester if they go unused, and there will be no time limit between swipes.

“I know a lot of students have struggled with dividing their meal plan amount and making sure they have enough money,” Melvin said. “I really hope this new plan will help students going forward.” 

To better equip campus dining locations for an expected increase in business, campus dining will undergo renovations over the summer. 

According to Eckman, new equipment is  being ordered to assist in a no-contact, quick entrance as well as customer self-service lines.

Hours will be extended at certain locations in the 2022-2023 academic year to accommodate an expected increase in customer visits to dining locations. Likewise, staffing is also expected to increase for the upcoming academic year, Eckman said. 

Students living in residence halls will choose their meal plan option when they complete their housing contract. Students living off campus may use the Meal Plan Change Request Form to choose a meal plan. Dining dollars can be added to student accounts at any time and in any amount through the AppCard office.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of dining dollars the All Access 7 plan provided students.