Meal plans now required for all on-campus students

Mark Aguayo | @calebaguayo1, Contributing Writer

The University of Alabama’s Bama Dining program has announced that for the 2021-2022 academic year, all on-campus residents will be required to purchase the Silver 125 meal plan.

The announcement comes as a result of Bama Dining renewing its contract with Aramark, the University’s food service provider. 

“The change aligns UA’s policies closer to many other universities in the state and SEC,” said Shane Dorrill, assistant director of communications for the University.

According to the Director of University Dining Services Kristina Patridge, the renewed contract allows the University and Aramark to share financial responsibility in light of reduced income due to COVID-19. She said the goal of the new contract was to “reduce the price of the freshman meal plan” and to “reduce financial impact.” 

“Revenue generated from the meal plan goes directly to the University to benefit the dining program and campus facilities,” Patridge said. “Funds generated from food service operations cover utilities, maintenance, equipment, and renovations and building new dining venues.”

Freshmen who live on campus will be given the option to purchase either the Silver 125 meal plan or the All Access meal plan, according to Dorrill. Bama Dining’s website shows that the Silver meal plan is $856 per semester cheaper than the All Access.

Jack Goram, a sophomore majoring in creative media, believes it is a good thing for freshmen to have a meal plan, but it shouldn’t be “forced upon” anyone older than freshmen. 

“They know their living situation,” Goram said, referring to sophomores and upperclassmen. “They know what they want to eat and which meal plan they want to be on… A forced meal plan will cause more issues than anything, especially with older students.”

Jackson Merker, a sophomore majoring in kinesiology, thinks there could be benefits to the decision. 

“It may be good because on-campus students won’t be at home, eating Ramen all day,” he said.

However, he has concerns about the meal plan’s cost and thinks that meal plans should not be required for students older than freshmen. The Silver meal plan is $1,200 per semester, according to Bama Dining’s website. 

Freshman Jake Ange said having a meal plan is beneficial because one can “go whenever and get some food,” but he said he disagrees with making meal plans mandatory. He said he will most likely get a meal plan, even if he does not live on campus.

Zach Laoye, another UA freshman, agreed.

“If a kid that’s not a freshman is on campus, it should be their choice to get a meal plan,” he said. 

Patridge noted that last year, around 7% of UA students lived on campus and did not have a meal plan.

“Dining on campus is convenient, provides opportunities for community building, and allows students to budget their dining expenses,” she said. 

She said Bama Dining hopes to have all on-campus residents purchasing a meal plan.

“Details, including other options and the benefits of on-campus meal plans will be provided soon on the Bama Dining website,” Dorrill said.