The college updated meal plans available for students at the end of the 2014 academic year. The student life committee, Joe DiChristina, dean of students, Linda Wetsell, chief financial officer and treasurer, and Bill Watts, general manager for Parkhurst Dining Services at Allegheny College worked together during the spring 2014 semester to discuss altering available plans.
Before updating the plans, there were ten plans available compared to the five current plans: Complete Plan, Daily Plan, Frequent Plan, Lite Plan and the Mini Plan. Some students have voiced concern over this change and began an online petition.
Sarah Naughton, ’15, former director of student affairs, played a large role in updating the plans.
“This was the best thing for the majority of students,” said Naughton. “People were running out of meals in October. They weren’t getting what they paid for, they weren’t getting quality.”
Naughton described the updating process as the college taking into account the increase in average meal prices in addition to the increase in cost of food.
“When the plans were originally set up, the average meal at McKinley’s cost five dollars,” said Naughton. “The average meal is now eight. The prices of the plans had to accommodate that the price of food has gone up.”
The meal plans had not been updated in more than 10 years and did not reflect the current economic status.
“Times changed, amenities changed, atmospheres changed. What they did was they tried their best to make and adapt the meal plans to help out the student body and give them better options,” said Naughton.
With the updated plans, students in traditional dorms without immediate kitchen amenities, are required to buy larger meal plans than students living in North Village, Allegheny Commons or in houses.
Before the new plans were official, Allegheny Student Government held a town hall meeting on April 15. Approximately 50 students attended the meeting and some students voiced concern about the upcoming change. One of the questions discussed was why students are required to buy a meal plan. According to the ASG minutes, the two main reasons are health and safety of students and financial resources-providing pay for workers and keeping hours of service.
Students also showed concern over increasing Brooks meals on certain plans.
“I used to have a meal plan that used to have 70 Brooks meals but now I’m forced to pick one with 90 or 120 or 180 so it’s inconvenient for me and it’s forcing me to pay more money for food and to go to a place I don’t want to go to,” said Molly Brinser, ’16.
Staffing and spatial availability were taken into consideration when distributing between Brooks and McKinley’s for the plans.
“There is not enough staff, room or food preparation area to accommodate everyone at McKins,” said Naughton. “That’s why we have two dining halls to begin with, to spread the wealth.”
Changes to the plans were made following the town hall meeting because of student concern, explained Naughton. The new plans did not become official until May.
Some students showed concern during the summer and continued to question the plans into the semester. Stephanie Engel, ’16, began an online petition that stated the newer plans were insufficient to student needs. There are approximately 236 names signed on the petition.
Engel first became interested in this subject when she learned she could not purchase the Mini Plan because she lives in a traditional dorm.
“For me most of the issues on there don’t affect me, but I still sign it because I think it should reflect everyone here,” said Engel. “I’m not here to bash Allegheny. It’s more about bringing the conversation to the table.”