UMD’s New Dining Program Controversy

By Bridget Divers
For Unwind magazine

A new year brings a new meal plan at the University of Maryland with all-you-can-eat buffets at the three dining halls-North Campus, South Campus and 251 North-on campus. The points are called Dining Dollars, and even though an unlimited dining plan sounds like a college student’s dream come true, the new plan has gotten some mixed reviews.

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South Campus Dining Hall is one of three dining hall options for students. Photo by Matt Regan

Junior English and secondary education major Shamari Pratt said she doesn’t like the new dining plan because there are less options to choose from compared to last year. Not only are there fewer food options, there are fewer options on where you can eat.

“I miss being able to take out food because now I have to eat alone,” Pratt said.

The disappearance of takeout is one of the biggest contentions concerning the new plan. The other is the disappearance of the beloved buffalo chicken wraps. Upperclassmen especially have voiced their complaints over the fact that these wraps are no longer available every day of the week, and that they are non-customizable when they do come into rotation. According to The Diamondback, the buffalo chicken wraps made up 40 percent of all sandwich orders last year.

“Serving 150 things all the time is not variety,” Bart Hipple, Dining Services spokesman, told The Diamondback. “Serving 50 things, then 50 different things, then 50 different things – that’s variety.”

One of the ideas behind the variety is to provide healthier options in the dining halls, which some have seen as a problem in the past.

Some students are pleased with the update but have a few suggestions for improvement. Freshman elementary education major Jenny Farmer said she really likes the dining plan, but she wished the hours were more accommodating to students’ needs.

“I wish 251 was open longer because sometimes I get out of class at 9 [p.m.], and it’s already closed,” Farmer said.

Not all reviews of the new dining plan are negative. For sophomore business student Matthew Murphy, the dining plan is better than his previous year.

“I always ran out of points halfway through the semester last year, so I would have to use other people’s points,” Murphy said.

This year, students enter the dining halls using a pre-determined number of points, and can choose as much food as they want once inside. It helps with point budgeting, so that students are less likely to run out of points before the year is over.

This year the dining halls also inform students of dietary restrictions, such as which foods are vegetarian or have no sugar added. Murphy said he particularly likes this new installment because his diet is gluten-free and vegan.

Although it is an adjustment for many students, the new dining plan seems to be here to stay, biometric scanning and all. Students will have to take it or leave it, even if they can’t take out.

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