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BC Dining Will Offer Three Meal Plan Options for the 2023–24 School Year

Boston College will offer three price levels—light, base, and premium—for students’ residential meal plans starting in the 202324 school year, according to Director of Dining Services Beth Emery.

“Dining Services has considered offering multiple Mandatory Residential Meal Plan options for many years since we understand that ‘one size does not fit all,’” Emery wrote in an email to The Heights. “Offering multiple options will better meet student needs.”

The price of the cheapest meal plan will increase from $3,000 total per semester in 202223 to $3,100 total per semester for 202324. According to Emery, meal plan prices increase each year due to the rising costs of food and labor.

“The minimum for the Base Meal Plan increases each year to cover the rising cost of food, labor, transportation, and other expenses,” Emery wrote. “Our dining operation is self-operated and is not supported by tuition. Our goal each year is to be financially self-sufficient.”

This fall, students will be automatically enrolled in the base meal plan, which includes $3,100 per semester, plus $300 in Flex Bucks. This gives students about $30 to spend on food per day. According to Emery, this plan is the best option to fit most students’ needs. It covers about two on-campus meals a day plus snacks.

Although all students will be enrolled in the base meal plan for the fall semester, they can change their preference to the light or premium option in the Agora Portal from June 10 through Sept. 8. Students have until Jan. 26, 2024 to change their meal plan for the spring semester.

According to Emery, the light plan is the best option for students who eat some meals off campus or in their residence halls.

“The Light Plan includes $2850 per semester plus $250 in Flex Bucks (approximately $28 per day),” Emery wrote. “Most students on this plan eat two on-campus meals per day during the week and an occasional meal on the weekends.”

The premium option is best for students who eat the majority of their meals on campus, according to Emery.

“The Premium Plan includes $3350 per semester plus $350 in Flex Bucks (approximately $33 per day),” Emery wrote. “Most students on this plan eat three on-campus meals a day plus snacks, seven days a week.”

With the increase in minimums and Flex Bucks for the base meal plan, students will no longer be able to purchase an $800 maroon or $1,200 gold upgrade if they run out of funds. According to Emery, students can instead purchase a flex plan through the Agora Portal.

Daniel Wise, a Student Assembly representative on UGBC’s Dining Advisory Board and MCAS ’25, said rising food costs and student complaints about running out of meal plan money prompted the new meal plan system.

“I think BC Dining was aware that a lot of students were unhappy with the current dining system and the funding of meal plans,” Wise said. “A lot of students were having trouble funding their meal plans and a lot more so than in past years.”

Wise said he thinks the change in meal plan options is a step in the right direction, as it allows for students to have more flexibility with their spending. 

“I think they’re always open to new changes and to do what students want, so I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction, but I think they’ll be open to making more changes if students expressed a desire for those,” Wise said. 

Kayla Sadraie, CSOM ’25, said she knows many students struggle with funding their meals toward the end of each semester, but she does not understand why the light plan will be more expensive than this past school year yet offer less food than the other meal plan options.

“I know that a lot of people actually struggle with their meal plans now—one to pay for it, and also to be able to eat enough food,” Sadraie said. “There’s so many people that starve [in] the last few weeks of each semester, so for the light to be less food and more expensive, it just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Rachel Murray, MCAS ’25, said while the different price levels are less than ideal, she thinks the new system makes sense as some students currently do not spend all of their meal plan money by the end of the semester.

“There’s also the opposite end of the spectrum, like all the people that have so much extra meal plan money towards the end of the semester, and they’re just giving away free food,” Murray said. “So honestly, I think separating them does make sense.” 

April 23, 2023