UCLA Dining to offer pilot meal plan for select off-campus students
Pictured is the Rendezvous takeout dining hall. Students living in University Apartments North can access the dining plan as part of a new pilot scheme. (Daily Bruin file photo)
UCLA Dining announced it will pilot a meal plan for some students living off campus.
In a Nov. 13 email to students living in University Apartments North, which includes the Laurel, Tipuana and Palo Verde buildings, UCLA Dining said the plan will offer 35 meals to a limited number of undergraduate students for the rest of the quarter at the cost of a $525 up-front payment. The email added that the meal plan can be used for all dining locations for breakfast but only for takeout dining halls and food trucks during lunch, dinner, and late-night meals.
Jessica Gonzales, a fourth-year astrophysics student, said while she had not yet signed up for the new meal plan, she thinks it is a good idea. One of the things she misses about living on the Hill was the healthy grab-and-go options at The Study at Hedrick and Bruin Plate, she said.
“I think it’s a very good idea because the Hill has really good food, and it’s kind of nice to just be able to pick it up and go versus (having to) prep a meal or cook,” Gonzales said.
She added that her roommates have already expressed an interest in signing up for the plan.
Alette Laughton, a third-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetic student, said she thought the new meal plan was a good idea in theory, but she had concerns about the execution.
“It’s a great idea to give students who live in off-campus apartments a way to have a meal plan and to bring that back, because I believe it was a thing prior to COVID,” she said.
A spokesperson from UCLA Dining and UCLA Housing said in an emailed statement that they implemented the new plan in response to student demands for additional food options.
“Housing-Dining has received continued feedback that students living off-campus would like access to the dining halls on the Hill,” they said in the statement. “Although it is initially limited, our goal is to be able to offer a meal plan and dining hall access to any students that want it.”
The spokesperson said in the statement that the administration assessed restrictions to the plan concerning staffing shortages, adding that it will assess the pilot plan by measuring whether an off-campus meal plan can be implemented permanently without increasing wait times.
However, some students also expressed concerns about the price of the new meal plan.
Gonzales said that she thinks the meal plan is expensively priced compared to cooking her own food. The meal plan works out to a cost of $15 per meal for students.
Laughton also said she thinks a lower price would lead to a higher uptake for the plan.
“The fact that it’s $15 (per meal) – I think it’s just way too expensive,” she said. “If it was closer to something like $7 to $10, I think a lot more people would go for it.”
The UCLA Dining and Housing spokesperson said in the statement that the reintroduction of the meal plan is also part of a longer-term strategy to increase access to food options for students who do not live on the Hill.
“Dining strives to provide exceptional food service to every student who seeks it,” they said in the statement. “With the introduction of this pilot meal plan, we are slowly rebuilding this access and aspire to expand it further in the future.”