Eating well in college is not always easy with limited spending money, limited appliances and packed schedules. For many students, heading to college often entails leaving home-cooked meals behind. Although dining halls will never rival a homemade meal, Ohio University students have various on-campus dining options during their time as Bobcats.
OU's Culinary Services oversees two large-scale traditional dining halls: The District on West Green and Nelson Court. Culinary Services also oversees cafes, eateries, markets and food trucks, such as Brick City Deli, West 82, Latitude 39 and the newly established Earl's Coop.
These eateries offer various foods and beverages to enjoy. However, different university meal plans each impact where students can spend their meal swipes and what they can get.
The university offers Traditional and Flex meal plans for on-campus students. The Traditional plans only allow students to use their swipes at The District, Nelson Commons, Earl's Coop or Smooth Moves at Boyd Market during the 34 weekly open-periods of these establishments. This plan also comes with seven guest meals at the dining halls.
The Flex options offer more variability in where and how students can use their swipes on campus. Students using the Flex meal plan can use their swipes at on-campus markets and restaurants, swipe guests into the dining halls and spend 225 Flex points, equivalent to $225, for the semester. Additionally, each swipe at the campus markets is equivalent to $6.75.
Matthew Apuzzo, a sophomore studying political science, has the Flex 14 meal plan. He primarily uses his swipes in Boyd Market, rather than the traditional dining halls.
"I believe that the Flex 14 is worth it because it gives you access to more things on campus because you're not strictly limited to the dining halls," he said. "Although the price is steep, I think you can get your money's worth."
The dining plans on-campus students can purchase include Traditional 14, Traditional 20, Flex 14 and Flex 20— the Traditional 14 costs $2,462 per semester, while the Flex 14 costs $3,355.
With the current Ohio Guarantee rates, there is a $893 cost to upgrade from the Traditional 14 to the Flex 14. A $668 fee allows students to use their swipes in alternative spaces than the traditional dining halls.
Emma Hutton, an undecided freshman, believes the Flex 14 meal plan is best for her because she uses most of her meal swipes at Nelson Market, located on South Green.
"The cost is definitely worth the convenience in my opinion," she said in an email. "It's much easier to go to the market rather than Walmart or even CVS."
For students who do not have cars, making their way to East State Street can be a hassle. Some, like Hutton, do not feel it is worth the trouble.
Hunter Person, a sophomore studying political science, opted for the Traditional 14 meal plan instead of the Flex.
"I don't believe it is worth it," he said. "You could just put the money in (your student account) yourself, and that would be the same as Bobcat Cash."
As many OU students head home and make important financial decisions for the next semester, it's worth it to consider the worth of convenience when selecting a meal plan.