Cal Poly freshmen that live in on-campus residence halls are mandated to purchase a dining plan but many may not realize exactly what is included. There are three different meal plans to choose from that combine meal credits and plus dollars, so students can use their meal plan to buy almost any food available on campus.
The Freedom Plan includes eight meal credits per week, the Flexibility Plan has 10 meal credits per week and the Value Plan has 12 meal credits per week. All three also include plus dollars that are allotted quarterly – dollars that are credited on a student’s account and can be used to buy food on campus. The Freedom plan includes the most with $475, followed by Flexibility with $300 and Value with $75.
Plus dollars are added to students’ accounts at the beginning of every quarter; however, any excess rolls over until the end of spring quarter. But, meal credits expire at the end of every week — beginning Saturday morning and ending Friday night, said Yukie Nishinaga, marketing and public relations director of Campus Dining.
Meal credits can be used at three locations on campus: 19 Metro Station, Sandwich Factory and, starting this year, Einstein Bros. Bagels in Poly Canyon, Nishinaga said. If a student’s meal costs more than is allowed for a meal credit — $7.90 for breakfast, $8.75 for lunch, $10.75 for dinner and $8.75 for late night — it is possible to make up the difference using plus dollars.
Cal Poly’s meal plan is not an “all you can eat buffet.” Instead, set meals allow for minimal waste, as well as a more quality product and increased variety, Nishinaga said.
For example, 19 Metro Station has five different stations: a salad bar, an Asian food station, a “homeward bound” station (with classic hot dishes), an Italian pasta station and a grill menu, along with a variety of grab-and-go items, Nishinaga said.
Soil science sophomore Sammi Buono said she used her meal credits mostly at VG Café and Metro.
“If I had to use a meal credit, it was definitely for a scramble at VG’s for breakfast or lunch. They make them right in front of you, and you can add whatever you want,” Buono said. “But, I thought that Metro had better options usually for lunch and dinner.”
Campus Dining continues to change the meal options given depending on student input.
“A lot of feedback we were getting (in the past) included adding more vegetarian options,” Nighinaga said. “The reason why we make changes is 100 percent because students ask for them.”
Adding more vegetarian options also meant healthier options, she said.
“There was a girl on my floor (in the residence halls) who was a vegetarian, and the black bean burgers at Metro and VG’s were her favorite. She also loved the veggie wraps and veggie pitas at both Sandwich Factory and the Avenue,” Buono said.
Nishinaga said there are different ways to satisfy students with special dietary needs.
“There are awesome local vendors that provide products at Campus Market that provide amazing vegan and vegetarian options — almost everything is modifiable too, such as sandwiches and pastas,” Nishinaga said.
Biological sciences sophomore Victoria Phillips said she would have liked more variety, but said the food was edible.
Phillips said that during her freshman year she didn’t like how the smallest meal plan option was still eight meal credits, which were too many for her since meal credits can only be used at certain locations of campus. She said she would definitely suggest the meal plan with the smallest number of meal credits.
“Even if you lose meal credits, you can still use plus dollars to buy a meal,” Phillips said.
Even if a student has plus dollars left over at the end of a quarter or the year, the university offers such things as school supplies and shirts at Campus Market for this exact purpose. However, meal plans can only be used for food.
“I usually used my plus dollars at the end of the quarter at Campus Market,” Phillips said. “I didn’t use a lot of my meals and they went to waste.”
Cal Poly Campus Dining works to not waste the food that would otherwise be thrown away. In February 2009, Campus Dining brought back an old Cal Poly tradition of composting old food material, which in the past had been done by students, and now is done by the local company Engel & Gray Inc., Nishinaga said.
“We compost approximately 300 tons per year, almost 200 pounds of cardboard is recycled and, furthermore, we use a lot of our old fry oil to fuel our bio-diesel trucks for Campus Dining,” Nishinaga said. “We also create a relatively small carbon footprint since our Campus Dining trucks are only needed to transport on campus, and 50 percent of them are electric and bio-diesel.”
Additionally, Campus Dining is now involved with social media, utilizing both Facebook and Twitter, to share PolyDeals that inform students about updates and deals for eating on campus.
Tips for meal plan:
- Avoid wasted meal credits by using them on:
- Wake up early to use a breakfast meal credit at:
- Sandwich Factory
- Einstein Bros. Bagels (in Poly Canyon Village)
- Plan to eat at late night
- Conserve plus dollars, use meals first
- Spend the whole meal credit value