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George Washington makes adjustments to “open” meal plan

University adds $200 to meal allotments after first year

After launching a new open campus dining plan, George Washington University is working out some of the kinks beginning with a $200 boost to the amount of money on-campus students can spend on food.

As reported by the GW Hatchet, the university will give all on-campus students an additional $200 in dining funds, which students use to pay for meals on their student IDs — the GWorld card. The changes are set to take hold with the start of the next academic year, with additional plans to expand discounted meal options this summer.

The meal plan adjustments are partially the result of some students reporting that the semester allotments weren’t providing enough funds to cover the high cost of eating at various campus locations. Beginning next fall, the dining fund breakdown will see freshmen allotted $4,100 in dining dollars, sophomores $2,700, juniors $2,200 and seniors $1,200.

Beginning last year officials implemented an “open” dining plan that enables students to spend the entirety of their meal money at vendors and grocery stores across campus. Rather than leveraging traditional meal swipe allotments that automatically spreads dining funds more evenly, the open plan requires students to budget their own dining dollars and habits across the semester much like they would a debit account. Additonal money can be added to the accounts via GET or at the GWorld card office should a student exhaust all dining funds.

In the past, freshmen students were required to spend $1,400 of their $2,300 yearly dining dollars at on-campus locations. Following the dining reshuffle, however, students can now spend their dining plan allotments at any retail dining location that accepts the GWorld card.

A spokesman for the university says that an influx of more retail dining near campus in recent years, and dining related renovations currently happening on campus, has led some student traffic away from the more traditional campus dining hall. Reports also suggest that pricing at the retail locations has been more expensive than at campus-run establishments, leading the university to create what are called “meal deals.” The meal deals are discounted meal combinations and were launched this past fall in response to student concerns regarding the affordability of dining around campus.

The meal deals offer students three options to combine individual menu items and save money at 23 participating vendors. Among the deals are a $6 breakfast, $8 dollar lunch and $10 dinner. University officials plan to add new vendors to the meal deal program during the summer to help increase the number of participants. The deals are designed to provide affordable dining options and encourage students to eat at on-campus vendors.

According to the Hatchet report the retail dining locations haven’t yet seen strong adoption of the meal deals, with many students instead paying the normal, non-discounted prices. Some vendors believe that students might simply be unaware that the discounts are an option.

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