Campus Dining is combining declining balance funds with meal credits in three unique dining plans for incoming students. | Mustang News File

Cal Poly’s incoming freshmen and transfer students will have the option to choose from three different dining plans for the 2018-2019 school year. 

While all freshmen living on campus are still required to have a dining plan, Campus Dining switched from Plus Dollars, or prepaid funds to be used at Cal Poly venues, to meal credits and declining balance funds. There are three dining plan variations for freshmen and transfer students, a departure from the “one size fits all” approach where all freshmen were required to pay the same amount. 

Similar to previous years, meal credits and declining balance funds will be loaded on students’ PolyCards for immediate use. 

The change was primarily based on student feedback asking for more dining plan options, according to Cal Poly Corporation Communications Specialist Aaron Lambert.

Freshman meal plans

The “Mustang 180 Plan” includes both meal credit and declining balance funds reaching a total cost of $5,161 for the school year. This plan encompasses 180 meals credits per quarter (about 16 meals per week) and $175 declining funds distributed each quarter.

The “Mustang 150 Plan” also includes meal credits and declining balance funds, but is a little cheaper — ringing in at $4,985 for the academic year. This plan contains 150 meal credits per quarter (about 13 meals per week) and $283 declining balance funds each quarter.

Finally, the “Mustang All-Flex Plan” only includes declining balance funds and is the most expensive plan at $5,537 for the year. The plan includes $1,517 declining balance funds distributed each quarter (about $125 per week).

Each plan includes $200 for WOW meals.

These plans differ from the 2017-2018 school year, where freshmen living in the residence halls were given 1,400 Plus Dollars on their PolyCards each quarter. Freshmen living in the apartments on campus received 1,090 Plus Dollars on their PolyCards each quarter to spend on food.

“The students now have three plan options that offer more options and flexibility than the Plus Dollar system,” Lambert said. “The meal credits will offer more opportunity to eat healthy meals throughout campus and leave declining balance dollars for purchases at the markets.” 

Most venues will offer preset meals where students can use meal credits, receiving up to a 35 percent discount on their regular prices. | Mustang News File

Transfer and continuing student plans

Along with new dining options for the incoming freshmen, this is the first time there has been a specific plan for continuing and transfer students.

The “Mustang 120 Plan” costs a total of $2,731 for the school year and includes both meal credits and declining balance funds. This plan offers 120 meals credits per quarter (about 10 meals per week), $100 declining balance funds distributed each quarter and $65 bonus declining balance funds per quarter.

The “Mustang 80 Plan” also includes meal credits and declining balance funds reaching a total of $1,951 for the year. With this plan, a student will have 80 meal credits per quarter (about 7 meals per week), $100 declining balance funds distributed each quarter and $40 bonus declining balance funds per quarter.

The “Mustang Freedom Plan” is the most expensive plan for continuing and transfer students, costing $3,001 for the academic year. This plan only includes $1,000 declining balance funds distributed each quarter (about $80 per week) and $70 bonus declining balance funds per quarter.

How it works

Each meal credit provides a meal at 805 Kitchen, a buffet-styled dining venue, with savings of up to 35 percent off of regularly priced meals, or a meal equivalent, at other Campus Dining locations.

Meals at other dining locations will be selected off of a predetermined menu created by each venue, including a main dish item and a beverage. Any meal credits remaining at the end of each quarter will be terminated as they do not roll over into the next quarter.

The declining balance funds on the meal plans can be used at any of the Campus Dining venues including the food trucks, Campus Market, Subway, ShakeSmart, Starbucks and Yogurt Creations. Unused declining balance funds roll over to the next quarter, but funds left at the end of spring quarter will become inoperative.

The base cost for each meal plan is the non-food operation costs including equipment, equipment replacements and facilities maintenance for the dining locations.

In addition, students will be given the option to change meal plans if they are unsatisfied with their initial plan after fall quarter.  

Campus Dining plans to stick with these options for the upcoming years, but is open to feedback, Lambert said.

“We don’t plan on any major changes, however, planning at Campus Dining is pretty fluid, as we are constantly taking feedback, researching other campuses and searching for better offerings for our very large and diverse clientele,” Lambert said.

Plus Dollars were introduced in 2001 to give students more flexibility in locations and items to eat. Plans offered a combination of Plus Dollars and meal credits. Students could choose from multiple plans that offered different combinations of meal credits and Plus Dollars, but the total cost of all plans were the same. Beginning in 2015, all plans were declining balance through last year.

Campus Dining offers 22 dining venues, three food trucks, and more than 1,000 menu options. 

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