The Naked Truth Behind the Meal Plan

By: Eli Longman  |  December 18, 2019

By Eli Longman

One of the foremost issues that has been discussed this semester at Yeshiva University, is the meal plan. It begs the question, what is the most convenient and fair way to serve students? This semester, the administration attempted to create an improved meal plan, which resulted in large problems on both the Wilf and the Beren campuses, in addition to the problems with food served in the cafeterias. 

At the beginning of the semester, we were sent an email about how the system was going to work, but there was a lack of clarity for many students regarding the exact facts about membership fees or discounts. While the information was available in the information packets emailed by YU Housing, students were only officially and unfairly informed of this change a few days before the start of the semester.

In previous years, the meal plan was a flat $1750 fee per semester for the standard plan, and $1500 for the reduced plan. This semester, however, the manner in which the caf money is distributed was changed. Quite truthfully, the math did not justify the changes instituted this year. Students have proved that this system would have stolen funds from us this year in comparison to last year.

The YU administration deducted $675 from our student accounts, which was 45% of our caf money. We only received a 35-40% discount; that means we were losing about 5-10% of our money to the system. Basically, more money was going into the pockets of either the cafeteria services or the YU administration itself. 

After a couple of months, the university finally realized that this new plan was deeply flawed. The new meal plan that was announced a day before Thanksgiving promises that we are refunded $675 back to our accounts, after a deduction of the 40% we’ve been receiving all semester from the discounted membership. The end result is that the “new meal plan” does not directly change our balance, because the returned money gets deducted from all the discounts we’ve received with every purchase from the entire semester. Prices stay the same and there will be no more discounts on cafe purchases. However, despite the fact that the old meal plan was reinstated, students were confused by the new meal plan and were unable to budget accordingly, thus still reeling from the negative consequences of the new meal plan experiment.

Foreign student Eddie Shindleman remarked, that “regarding prices, all I know is that I paid a ton of money for the meal plan and now I’m almost out. Seems like someone got a little greedy.” This is after the recent meal plan changes that have been made. Clearly, this student is having difficulties due to the fact that he doesn’t have enough money to feed himself, and is still feeling the consequences of the new meal plan.

There is also more discontent for students than just the meal plan, including the actual food served at the cafeteria. Students want to be in agreement with the university, and not have to keep arguing about the meal plan and food itself. One student said anonymously, “The amount we are given per semester as well as the ‘deals’ that are given are unbelievable, and just end up being more expensive than last year’s plan. The majority of the food served has no protein or health benefits… just stomach aches.” The food served is noticeably very repetitive and unhealthy. Apart from the meal plan issue, I think we should start serving our students slightly healthier food and less “fast” food so that YU students can live a healthier lifestyle.

This issue was only partly resolved by reinstituting the old meal plan. Students have come from all across the country, even the world, to be in a Jewish environment at a Jewish university. Students pay around $60,000 a year to attend school here, and food should not be a constant concern for them. More enforcement needs to take place to ensure that flawed systems like the “new meal plan” do not occur again, so that students can benefit from what YU has to offer without the anxiety that the “new meal plan” created.