Unlimited meal plans keep dining hall food consumption stable


Photo Courtesy of Calvinknights.com

Student meal swipes remain stable despite declining enrollment.

In Fall 2018, Calvin introduced the unlimited meal plan. In an email, Melissa Smith, the service manager at Creative Dining Services, mentioned that even though enrollment at Calvin is down, “students with the unlimited meal plan are swiping in for meals more often, so we have not seen a decrease in food consumption.” As of October 2019, 1,115 students have the unlimited meal plan, according to Smith. “So far, there have been 119,003 meal swipes in the dining hall from the unlimited meal plan,” she said.

Assuming these 1,115 students have had the unlimited meal plan since the first day of classes, this averages 106 swipes per student. Assuming that students began swiping on the first day of class (Sept. 3) and the number of swipes cumulate through Oct. 22 (the day before the email from Smith was received), the total number of days students could have swiped in is 49. This averages to 2.2 swipes per day per student with an unlimited meal plan.

Smith said the dining hall “had multiple requests for changes to the traditional meal plans and we found that the unlimited meal plan allows for the most flexibility. It gives the students the ability to eat on campus when it works best with their schedule.” John Witte, the dean of student life, echoed Smith by stating that the unlimited meal plan gives students “more options for times, re-entries with friends, flexibility for grabbing a snack, etc.” 

In addition to the unlimited meal plan, on-campus students can choose from a 205 block plan, a 150 block plan, and a 100 block plan.