Marquette has finally implemented a new meal program, due in large part to the fervent and consistent complaints that students brought to the Office of Residence Life. The Marquette meal plans represent a fairly competitive market, if we assume that each individual meal plan represents an actual firm (setting aside for the moment that we, as the consumer, actually have no choice who the University chooses as its food service provider). Students, as the consumers, must make a determination on the pros, cons, costs and benefits of each meal plan. Too many students, and in many cases parents, select a meal plan based on flat cost, without calculating the actual relative value per meal swipe. Now, although it’s too late to change which meal plan you have purchased, keep the following calculations in mind for next year.
By the numbers:
Carte Blanche: $1800 per semester, $50 Dining Dollars
Block 175: $1620 per semester, $100 Dining Dollars
Block 125: $1490 per semester, $150 Dining Dollars
Loyalty 50: $285 per semester, $0 Dining Dollars
If you do the math, the Block 175 shakes out to about $8.68 a meal, factoring in the dining dollars. The Block 125 is about $10.72, and the Loyalty 50 is about $5.70 per meal. The carte blanche is, quite obviously, impossible to calculate since you can eat as much as you want.
As with any all-you-can eat option, this is clearly the best choice if, a.) Money is no object, and b.) You make sure you use it enough. If you purchase the Block 175 or Block 125, bear in mind you are paying an outlandish premium for meals. At $8.68 or $10.72 per meal, respectively, you’re better off investing $40 at Sabor and eating all you can there. Considering what your swipe gets you with the new Meal Exchange program and the overall quality of residence hall food, the cost-per-swipe of both block plans seems outlandish. The Loyalty 50 is a nice choice for upperclassmen who don’t like to cook; $5.70 is a little more expensive than what you could make yourself, but not unreasonable as dining out comes.
Ultimately, the Carte Blanche is the best deal, if you can afford it, as it is a much more economical allocation of your resources. The Loyalty plan isn’t bad either if you’re a junior or senior, and with the Meal Exchange option and the new Café Italiano in Schroeder (see Arts & Entertainment for a review), these two plans are solid options for anyone looking to dine on campus. For underclassmen who purchased either block plan, my advice: go big or go home, get the all you can eat carte blanche next time around.
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