The University of North Georgia's Student Newspaper




    Meal Plans: The Money Students Waste

    P.O.D. location at HOAG. Photo by Ashley Brehm

    Most students who live on the Dahlonega campus are required to purchase a meal plan. For a baseline of $1,500 a semester, students can have 10, 15 or unlimited meal swipes per week. These plans can also have the option for a balance on your nighthawks card, known as dining dollars. These can be used at any restaurant on campus or at P.O.D.

    According to UNG Dining Services, most students use all of their dining dollars by the end of the semester. However, over the past three years there has been in increase by 10% of students not using all their dining dollars. After the end of the 2019 academic year 5% of students with a meal plan received a refund, and after the 2022 academic year 15% of students received a refund.

    Einstein Bros. Bagels at HOAG. Photo by Ashley Brehm

    Dining Services issues refunds for anything over the amount of $10. A Dining Services representative says, “What little funds that are not refunded, go into Dining Services’ reserve funds for future investments in dining facilities or equipment.” The representative says the policy allows Dining Services to avoid spending resources trying to refund small balances.

    Twisted Taco, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Chow House Diner offer meal equivalency swipes, totaling $5.50 per swipe, at their restaurants. This swipe is not available at Wild Blue Modern Japanese Kitchen formerly known as Miso’s, Starbucks, or at any of the P.O.D.s on campus.

    Isaak Robley, a freshman cyber security major, has the unlimited meal plan and uses his swipes two to three times a day. He says, “I guess the purpose of them [meal swipes] is primarily for the dining hall.” Robley also wants to see more options similar to Einstein’s and Twisted’s equivalency swipes saying, “More free stuff is better, at least for the students.”

    Robley has not used all his dining dollars yet and did not know that UNG offers a refund if not all of the dollars are used by the end of the semester. He says that the previous semester he used all the funds in his account.

    Leonora Ndow, a senior criminal justice major, has the 10-meals-a-week plan. She says, “I barely use them all in a week.” Ndow wishes there were more restaurants on campus to use them at and “that we should definitely be able to use them at P.O.D.” Ndow would like to be able to use the meal equivalency swipe more than once a day because, “Chow is disgusting, so I usually go… to Twisted or Einstein”

    Jasmyn Lee, a junior accounting major, has the unlimited meal plan. Lee says she tries to use her swipes 20 times a week, but it varies depending on how she’s feeling. The meal equivalency swipes are something she uses often, and she says, “Only using one meal swipe a day, what do they expect from me? Like I’ve got 99 swipes a day and I can only use one equivalency. That’s triflin’.” Lee also noted how the diner doesn’t always have food and waiting on it doesn’t line up with students’ class schedules.

    Twisted Taco at HOAG. Photo by Ashley Brehm
    Wild Blue Modern Japanese Restaurant at HOAG. Photo by Ashley Brehm

    Lee also takes issue with the meal swipe being $5.50. She says, “What kind of meal is $5.50 on this campus?” Lee thinks students should not have to dip into their bank accounts after using an equivalency swipe. She was also unaware that dining dollars over $10 are refunded after the semester. She says her suitemate from the previous semester had gone on a spending spree in fear that the money disappears.

    Katie Gray, a sophomore East Asian studies major, has the 10-meal-a-week plan. She thinks the cash equivalency should be used at every food spot on campus. Gray also says the refund option is “generally useless” to her because she always uses up her dining dollars during the semester.

    For more information about UNG Dining Services, like managing dining dollar and campus cash balances, checking the menu for the day and meal swipe equivalency information, visit their main page.

    Leave a Comment
    Donate to Vanguard

    Your donation will support the student journalists of University of North Georgia. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    About the Contributor
    Ashley Brehm
    Ashley Brehm, Staff Editor
    Hey y'all, I'm Ashley! My major is Communications with a focus in journalism. I really enjoy writing for Vanguard because I like to feel like I'm a part of the community and writing about issues pertaining to students is super interesting. My home campus is in Dahlonega, but I also take classes in Gainesville.
    Donate to Vanguard

    Comments (0)

    All Vanguard Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Activate Search
    Meal Plans: The Money Students Waste