Starving for change: Utah Tech University lacks reliable meal plans

The cafeteria in the Gardner building is home to the majority of Utah Tech’s on-campus dining options, including the campus favorite, Ace Sushi. A meal plan is available for students who need it, but with there being a lack of options, what are students’ opinions of the limited options? Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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The epitome of a college experience: crowded sports games, late-night homework assignments and the iconic dining hall.

What is the one thing Utah Tech University students are missing from the college experience? A dining hall and meal plans that are affordable, tasty and healthy.

Dining at any university should be convenient and healthy. Most universities have a dining hall with a cafeteria-style section, then the different restaurants. At Utah Tech, there are restaurants and no cafeteria section. This is limiting students, faculty and staff with allergies or dietary restrictions from the convenience of having food they can eat on campus.

Utah Tech has the convenience of having food on campus, but it severely lacks the inclusivity and healthy factor of meals. There are little to no places for students to obtain healthy food; it is all fast food.

A meal plan is a pre-paid account that allows all students to have access to restaurants and stores around campus. Many restaurants and stores on campus offer popular food but lack the variety to be worth eating at regularly.

A meal plan for spending money on fast food? Might as well walk to the local Taco Bell or Swig.

When I was exploring colleges as a senior in high school, my parents and I were surprised that Utah Tech didn’t have a well-organized dining hall and a meal plan that was worth paying for. For how old the school is, you would think this is something Utah Tech would have by now.

If you were like me and wondering what meal plans are offered since there isn’t a proper cafeteria, here are the options for Utah Tech students living on campus:

  • Plan A: $850 a semester or approximately $50 per week
  • Plan B: $1,250 a semester or approximately $73 a week
  • Plan C: $1,650 a semester or approximately $97 per week
  • Plan D: $2,250 a semester or approximately $132 per week

If you had Chick-fil-A and Subway for lunch and dinner, you would spend about $15 a day. This doesn’t include snacks and an optional breakfast.

There is also Bison Bucks, an alternative option for students who live off-campus. This allows students to load money onto their Utah Tech ID card. Students have the option to use their ID card when buying food from stores on campus.

The so-called convenience store in the Gardener Student Center is not a reliable grocery store for anyone. It is more of a gas station when it comes to selection. The store’s selection of quick snacks and energy drinks are not sustainable meal sources.

With the completion of Campus View III approaching, I hope the grocery store inside will have healthier choices and accommodate all dietary needs. I want to see more variety of options like fresh fruit, vegetables, healthy frozen meals and gluten-free options.

Healthier dining options and a full cafeteria is a lot to ask for. But taking little steps like adding more inclusive dining options and grocery stores will fix the lack of food diversity and readiness on campus. When contemplating whether or not to buy a meal plan, skip the headache and the wasted money on fast food.