Princeton University has made it easier for students to share a meal with each other thanks to a new electronic meal exchange program that encourages more interaction between members of the university’s various eating clubs.
According to Princeton's dining website, the Meal Exchange Program is designed to enable students with meal plans to dine with their friends at eating clubs without spending additional funds. The program is run jointly by the Inter-Club Council and Campus Dining, and includes club-to-dining hall exchanges as well as club-to-club exchanges.
The eating clubs at Princeton serve primarily as dining halls for upperclassmen. The clubs are not affiliated with the university and vaguely resemble fraternities and sororities, though eating clubs admit both male and female members and members do not live in the clubs.
As reported by student publication, The Daily Princetonian, the meal exchange program will enable students to eat at a wider variety of dining halls, and will eliminate previously used paper exchange slips.
To complete a meal exchange, a student must first invite a friend on the meal exchange website. A barcode will then be sent via email to be scanned at the dining hall register before entering the chosen dining facility.
Meal plan holders can host multiple students as long as none of the participants have already dined during that meal period at either a club or university dining hall. Both halves of the meal exchange must be completed within 30 days, with dinners being exchanged for dinners, lunches for lunches, and breakfasts for breakfasts.
The fully online exchange system offers a number of benefits over the old paper system. Notably, students no longer need to worry about losing a meal exchange card. Online exchanges also make it easier for eating clubs to properly track exchanges and accurately assess fines.
The exchange website allows students to invite friends to a meal anytime, and adds the flexibility of a full 30-day period to complete the exchange, as opposed to the previous policy that required exchanges to be completed within the calendar month.
The shift to the electronic exchange system will be finalized by the fall 2018 semester. The new system is expected to make the meal exchange process much smoother and encourage inter-club mingling.