Students petition to change meal plan time periods

Student Cody Madrigal, freshman of Omaha, wrote a letter addressed to Director of Housing and Residence Life Austin Stephens, Student Senate, The Eagle, and President Randy Rhine, regarding the restriction of 14 block meal plan.
The plan offers 14 meals per week, two meals a day, with access to meals restricted to breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and late night from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Madrigal petitioned in the Student Center, asking students to sign their names if they felt that they disagreed with the meal plan time periods, and “hoped for the removal of this restriction.” The petition received 246 signatures.
Senator at large Lelisse Umeta reported the petition to Senate during their meeting on Monday, Nov. 27. Senate, aware of the petition, discussed the letter and decided to table the discussion until Madrigal met with Dining Services Director Tracy Shuck. Having not met with Shuck yet, Madrigal hoped to change the policy regarding the restrictions.
“There are a lot of situations where it is inconvenient, and dropping the policy would make everything easier,” Madrigal said. “I work the night shift, and there are days when I miss out because of the policy.”
There are multiple meals plans offered to students, including the 14-meal plan with $100 in bonus bucks, the 150-meal block plan with $200 in bonus bucks and the 280-meal block plan with $200 in bonus bucks, as well as the 5-meal commuter plan. Each meal plan is restricted to the same meal plan time periods.
“This is done for two reasons. The first is to allow a natural break in the dining room serving hours, and the second being an IT concern,” Shuck stated in an email. “Dining services had to define meals periods so that the ID system has time to load the data. If times were not defined, the system would crash. It does the same thing if you ring up more than 10 items at a time.”
John Hansen, Vice President of EMMSS, explained that the 14 meal block plan costs less than the other plans, and that “parents typically want this meal plan because it ensures that their children have meals.”
Although no decisions are being made now,” Hansen said, “We might consider if we can offer a block plan between 150-meal plan and 280-meal plan.”
“I am glad to be aware of problems that students are having,” Hansen said. “We are not ignoring that students want something different.”
“I have to stay realistic,” said Madrigal. “I can’t plan on them totally just dropping [the restrictions], because of this small thing that I brought up. Maybe we could come to a compromise, like maybe changing it to spending two meals in one meal period, or other things.”
If you want to change your meal plan, you can do this at the end of the semester at the housing office.

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