In four years of adventure, college students learn who they are and hope to become a functional member of society with skills and a degree. However, college students are possibly hurting themselves in the process by depending too much on their university.
Students rely on meal plans and, by doing so, do not have the chance to learn how to cook and shop for groceries in a budget-friendly way. The age-old question is, “Is it even worth it to have a meal plan?”
According to LoveToKnow.com, students spend anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000 a school year on food — this includes groceries and the occasional Orange Leaf. However, UK Dining’s “unlimited plan” is $2,150 for the school year. While it is only a $150 difference from the estimation, the difference is substantial.
The freedom in choosing what they want to eat, learning how to shop on a budget and how to cook for themselves is critical in growing into an adult. Students without meal plans have the money that is not invested into the dining plan to buy their own food and cook their own meals. The students who are spending thousands on a meal plan are relying on the university when they need to be self-sustaining. Even though it is required to obtain a meal plan when living in a dorm, off campus students should refrain from purchasing one.
Therefore we must ask, “When did it become a must for students to rely on campus to feed them?” According to Stage of Life, 60 percent of college students do not receive financial help from their parents. Therefore, when students are forced to eat where the university tells them — the same places — how can one possibly afford to travel outside of the dining hall when all of their money has been spent on a meal plan?
There are an extensive number of restaurants in Lexington and many great ones around campus that are not on the dining plan. It is a shame for students to not have the chance to try the cuisine of different cultures because they have committed to the dining plan. As well as getting the chance to explore the city that they will be inhabitating the next four years of their life. Part of the college experience is enjoying the local culture, from that of Tolly Ho, Ramsey’s and Bourbon’ n Toulouse, without having to ask, “Do you take flex?”
When UK signed a contract worth $245 million with Aramark in 2014, this guaranteed building renovations and commissions to the university. This was said to lower the cost of dining prices for students with a $700 decrease from last year on the most expensive dining plan.
The university might be gaining money from this switch but students are not seeing any of the advantages since they are relying on the university. Therefore, to get the most out of their meal plan, students must eat every meal at restaraunts that accept meal plans. This is an unrealistic expectation and, quite frankly, unfair.
Jamilyn Hall is the assistant opinions editor of the Kentucky Kernel.