EDITORIAL: Rutgers is giving more bite for your bucks
Dining Services’ changes are good start, but more is needed
As Rutgers students, one of our most communal concerns involves meal swipes: How many should we buy? How many do we have left? How do we spread them out? The questions remain crucially in the back of our heads as we maneuver through our daily college lives. But thanks to the University, one of the apprehensions revolving meal swipes will be a thing of the past.
Rutgers Dining Services has taken initiative in creating more and better options for students with meal swipes. And part of this initiative involves the implementation of meal swipes at Harvest, which is the dining venue at the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health. Harvest focuses on foods that are healthier and less processed. Dining Services is also increasing the value of meal swipes from $6 to $7 for breakfast and $8 to $9 for lunch and dinner.
These changes are all a part of the Menus for Change agenda, which students saw the effects of last semester when Dining Services started incorporating healthier food options to Neilson Dining Hall takeout. Food options were made healthier by using what is being coined as the “protein flip,” which is essentially placing vegetables at the center of the plate while moving meats to the side.
Rutgers adding meal swipes to Harvest is definitely a step in the right direction and indicative of a chain of positive changes to the dining services at Rutgers but it is not quite enough — at least, yet.
Although Harvest is a great option to have and we will be able to use meal swipes at this location, there are so many other dining venues at Rutgers that should implement meal swipes as well, especially on College Avenue.
One of Rutgers Dining Services' greatest weakness lies on College Avenue: Brower Commons. Students always complain of the dining options and overall atmosphere of this College Avenue dining hall. It is always confusing to see the most commercial campus at the University having the least popular dining hall. Although there are many non-Rutgers-related dining venues on College Avenue, they all cost money. And with meal plans already starting at almost $2,000 for students living in residential halls, spending extra money on food is not the most favorable option. So even though it is a wonderful idea for Rutgers to incorporate meal swipes at a site that offers healthier food options, it would have made more sense to add meal swipes to a place where the options for food are already limited. Neilson Dining Hall is one of the better, if not the best dining hall, at Rutgers. It would be smarter to spread the wealth to the campus that hosts Brower Commons.
As for increasing the value of meal swipes, Rutgers is definitely doing right by the students, but there is still work to be done. Although the 285-plan does value to about $9 per meal, the lower the plan a student gets, the more they are paying for each meal swipe. In fact, students purchasing a 120-plan are paying over $16 for each meal swipe. Although students are swiping in for a buffet-style meal each time, the difference in numbers is alarming.
Rutgers Dining Services is starting to take strides that almost all students can appreciate. It is great to see that the concerns of students are being addressed and that they are receiving more bang for their buck. The only students who might complain about this are the ones who no longer use meal swipes.