UR has announced a new meal plan structure ths spring that will vastly redistribute meal costs across the campus community.

It eliminates the fixed cost fee built into the former plan. Students are also no longer required to buy specific plans based on housing location.

Sophomore Lonny Mallach, co-chair of the student dining committee, approves of the change.

?Every student should now be on a meal plan because they are cheaper than cash and Flex,? he said.

But the new plan is not better for everyone. Freshmen must now purchase a larger plan than before. They may choose from two options: 14 meals a week plus $500 of declining balance per ear, which costs $3,700; or 10 meals a week plus $700 of declining balance, which costs $3,300.

Last year, the least expensive plan freshmen could choose gave them $1,520 of declining balance for the year at a cost of $3,040.

Sophomores, whose obligation to buy a plan had depended on housing location, must now choose from those two plans and two other options. The third plan combines six meals per week with $900 of declining balance. It costs $2,950. Their fourth option is to buy a declining balance plan of $2,400.

The cash equivalency of a meal block has increased from $5 to $6.

Juniors and seniors benefit most from the change. They can now choose to have no meal plan regardless of where they live. They can buy a declining balance plan of any amount they want, and add money to their plan at any time.

Progressive bonuses will be given to students who who start the year with $2,400, $1,800 or $1,200 in their declining balance fund. A student gets a bonus of $380 (15 percent) for buying a $2,400 plan, $180 (10 percent) for a $1,800 plan and $106 (5 percent) for a $1,200 plan.

Although those who choose a lesser plan receive no bonus, all plan-buyers still get an 8 percent discount because they do not have to pay taxes on their food.

Students have complained in the past that there was no benefit of being on a meal plan because of the fixed cost included in its price. If a student had a platinum declining balance plan of $3,040, only half of it ? $1,520 ? would translate into declinable dollars.

?There are no hidden costs in any of these plans,? Director of Purchasing Quentin Roach said. However, ?the fixed fee won?t disappear. It will be incorporated into the real cost of food and everyone eating in a dining center will support the overhead cost.?

A gold plan last year cost $2,224 for $1,112 declinable dollars per year. A silver plan cost $1,112 for $556 in spendable dollars.

The price increase of food will be determined by fall, Roach said.

Mallach was concerned that freshmen do not have enough flexibility under the new plan.

Roach said freshmen are required to buy the most expensive plans for many reasons. First, the school must require some students to buy plans in order to meet the cost of operations. In addition, it wants to make sure freshmen eat properly during their first extended time away from home.

Roach also said dining centers are a gathering point. The meal plan requirement will further the community-building ideals of freshman housing, he said.

Like last year, no refunds will be given at the end of the year for excess declining balance because of New York state tax laws, Roach said.

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