Students with meal plans can now save an extra dollar with meal coupons for on-campus restaurants.
The Associated Students UCLA announced Oct. 5 that UCLA Dining Services has increased the value of dorm coupons by $1, bringing the value up to $3.45 from $2.45.
The Meal Numeration Coupon Program, also known as dorm coupons, allows students living on the Hill to trade meal swipes for coupons redeemable at on-campus food vendors. The program is funded by both ASUCLA and UCLA Dining Services.
The coupons, available at residence hall front desks, are redeemable for $3.45 at ASUCLA-owned restaurants, like Northern Campus Student Center and Curbside, but only $3.15 at third-party vendors such as Subway and Veggie Grill. Coupons can only be redeemed on the day they are purchased and only once per day per student. They can be combined with promotional coupons but not other dorm coupons.
Cindy Bolton, ASUCLA food service director, said more students used the coupons in the 1980s and 1990s because resident dining options and hours were more limited and the residence halls had yet to be renovated.
Bolton added the number of students redeeming the coupons has dwindled to almost nothing in the last ten years. She said she thinks this decrease is due to increased food options on the Hill and the stagnation of coupon values. The last coupon value increase was in 2010.
“It might be something that we would consider but we are in a tough spot because we are a nonprofit,” Bolton said. “(Increasing our contribution) could be potentially unfair for students who don’t live in the residence halls.”
Charles Wilcots, UCLA Dining Services associate director, said in an email statement the value of the coupons increased to accommodate the rising raw costs of food per person.
The program aims to help students who spend all day on campus use their meal plans, and provide an alternative for those whose schedules prevent them from eating in the dining halls, according to the ASUCLA announcement.
Student meal prices range from $9.75 to $12.25, according to UCLA Housing, meaning those who opt to use a coupon lose $6.30 to $8.80 of their swipe’s value.
Many students said they were unaware of this program, and many added they do not think the coupons offer good value.
Danielle Rawles, a first-year geology and environmental science student, said she did not know about the coupons, but thinks the coupons should be worth more.
“I have classes back-to-back, so I would use them if they made them worth more, like if they made it worth half (the value of a meal),” Rawles said.
Niara Allen, a first-year microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics student, also said she did not know about the coupons and added she thinks students should be able to use their swipes in Ackerman Union.
“They should let us use our swipes at Ackerman if (the coupon value is) worth more,” Allen said. “That’s my ride back (from class) on a Bird.”
Emily Reynolds, a fourth-year psychobiology student, said she thinks the coupon value is too small, but added she thinks the value of swipes often decreases outside the all-you-can-eat dining halls.
“Even at the cafes (on the Hill), you can get a coffee and a pastry for one swipe, but if you want two pastries (with coffee), it’s two swipes,” Reynolds said. “It’s ridiculous.”
ASUCLA will use social media and signs to inform students of the coupon program, Bolton said.
“We hope to have (student participation) increase, but I don’t know what to think,” she said.