Inflated dining hall prices make for meal plan challenges

Mare Gauntner and Mare Gauntner

At the beginning of each semester, students are prompted to choose a dining plan. From the meal plans offered, students have three options: bronze, silver or gold.

According to BGSU’s dining website, the least expensive meal plan is bronze: 85 meal swipes and 800 Falcon Dollars. 

Although 800 Falcon Dollars sounds like a large sum, junior science education major Hannah Grabke describes the cost of food relative to the meal plan.

“The food here at the markets is so expensive— so it really isn’t. It’s not enough,” she said. 

One meal swipe is the equivalent of one trip to a dining hall on campus for an all-you-can-eat buffet. 

There are 113 days within a semester. With the bronze meal plan, students can ration out a meal a day. 

Many students rely on the combination of the meal swipes and Falcon Dollars to feed themselves throughout the semester. However, the cost of products sold at BGSU are raised, making the value of the Falcon Dollar currency go down. 

Sophomore political science major Karen Krosky described the longevity of the bronze meal plan. 

“I knew not to get the bronze meal plan as a freshman because of my coach. The meal plan is not sustainable in the slightest. With the way it’s set up, it promotes eating disorder-like behavior, encouraging students to eat less or binge,” she said. 

The gold meal plan consists of 135 meal swipes and 1,000 Falcon Dollars. Although the most costly of the meal plans, Krosky stated this amount is sufficient. At the end of the semester, she had a remainder of meal swipes to rely on. 

“I ran out of Falcon Dollars but not swipes. I used the rest of my extra swipes on others who may have ran out,” she said. 

According to the chart comparing the prices of goods at BGSU and local grocery store Meijer, the cost of food at BGSU is inflated. 

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For a box of common snack Wheat Thins, BGSU has set the price at $7.39, whereas Meijer sells the same item for $3.19. The difference between these two products is over four dollars. 

Many students use the shuttle system at BGSU to get groceries at the local Meijer. However, many students do not have the time to utilize the shuttle system. Additionally, Falcon Dollars must be used by the spring semester, or they are canceled by the following semester. 

Krosky comments on the cost of goods sold at on-campus markets. 

“Everything is overpriced. You cannot get a sufficient meal for under $10,” she said. 

Sophomore architecture major Gabby Vitela has the silver dining plan. The silver meal plan is comprised of 110 meal swipes and 900 Falcon Dollars. Despite having the next tier up from bronze, she still runs out of Falcon Dollars during the semester. 

“I have run out of Falcon Dollars many times. I usually restock myself through BGSU’s website, but sometimes even that runs out again. I have always watched my meal swipes, so I have never run out of them, only down to zero on the last day,” she said.

Sophomore media production major Ashley Courson has Celiac disease, a condition that restricts her from eating products containing gluten. Courson described her experiences with on-campus dining and the struggles she faces with a dietary restriction. 

“There aren’t many gluten-free options at the campus markets already; they’re usually not fully stocked anyways. I don’t like to go to the dining halls due to limited options and the possibility of cross contamination. It’s difficult to find food for my dietary restriction,” she said. 

Although BGSU provides a plethora of dining options for students, many agree the cost of food is too high. With the increased cost of BGSU food products in markets, the set number of meal swipes and Falcon Dollars from the bronze meal plan is not a sustainable amount. 

“I don’t know about the other plans, but bronze is not sufficient. If you are supposed to eat three times a day, that’s not possible with a bronze meal plan,” Courson said.