Don't Swipe My Swipes: Advocating for Fair Meal Plans

There are many things to be excited about on Saturday nights. Unfortunately, for some students, the realization that their leftover meal swipes will disappear at midnight is not one of them.

At Pitzer, Scripps, and Harvey Mudd, students living in traditional campus housing are required to pay for a meal plan. These plans range from eight swipes per week to 16.

Unfortunately, meal swipes do not roll over from one week to the next. This is problematic for students, especially those who have busy schedules that change from week to week. Simply put, the 5C meal plan system exploits students. The administration should address the inflexibility and waste associated with the expiration of meal swipes.

Because classes and activities often conflict with meal times, students often must resort to snacking in their rooms or making meals in their residence hall kitchens. While this is alleviated by flexible dining hours at the Hub and Jay’s Place, missed swipes add up over the week, and vanish once the weekends roll around.

“The fact the meal swipes don’t roll over or can’t be donated is honestly criminal,” Jeff Konah PZ ‘21 said. “Meals are paid with our tuition, and they’re restricting access to the goods [and] services we paid for because we didn’t get the meal on time. It’s robbery.”

On other weeks, a student may want to eat more than their allotted swipes allow them to. Using Flex, Board Plus, or Claremont Cash to supplement extra meals is an option. However, students tend to run out of Flex early in the semester. Even worse, Claremont Cash comes out of a student’s pocket.

Having a rolling meal swipe system will allow students more flexibility and convenience, especially for those who have unpredictable schedules.

In addition to the creation of a rolling system, students should be able to donate extra meals to peers on campus. There are existing programs that donate meals to people in the greater community, which are certainly doing more good than harm, but don’t address the prevalence of food insecurity on campus.

If meals are being paid for, and there are students on campus who would use the extra swipes to eat at available meal times, it seems logical to find a way to make that transfer happen.

All students can access records of their meal plan swipes through their online Claremont Cash account. If such an online service already exists, administration should look into adding a feature to donate extra swipes to peers who need them.

Extra meals left over at the end of the week certainly aren’t the end all be all. But giving students a little more agency over how they can keep themselves fueled for class doesn’t seem like too much to ask for.