New plan to include pay-per-meal dining
By Emily Baer
Published on Wednesday, March 2, 2011
When the newly-renovated Class of 1953 Commons opens for Fall 2011, the dining halls will feature a new pay-per-meal dining plan, according to Director of Dining Services David Newlove. The new “hybrid” plan will enable students to either swipe their Dartmouth ID cards at ’53 Commons for an all-you-can-eat style meal, or use their Declining Balance Account at any other dining facility on campus, Newlove said.
While freshmen will be required to select a 20-meals-per-week plan for $1,658 per term, upperclassmen will have the option of choosing between 20, 14, 10 and 5 meals per week. Plans with fewer meals will include a larger initial DBA, according to Newlove. Although prices are not finalized yet, Newlove said plans will not exceed the amount of money allocated to dining services by financial aid packages.
“The College has always wanted students to be able to swipe their cards once and get as much food as they need,” Newlove said.
Students will also be able to use the pay-per-meal dining plan to pay for items at Collis Cafe and Courtyard Cafe in the Hopkins Center, according to Newlove.
Breakfast will also be served daily at ’53 Commons because beginning in Fall 2011, the Courtyard Cafe will no longer be open for breakfast.
Newlove said that due to the pay-per-meal program in ’53 Commons, students will not be permitted to sit in the dining hall without paying for a meal. To-go meal options will compensate for this inconvenience, Newlove said.
The pay-per-meal dining plan will alleviate the debts of students who run out of DBA by the end of the term, according to Newlove. The current system does not accommodate students on financial aid who may feel the need to skip meals in order to avoid a negative DBA balance, Newlove said.
“We have data that says that there are students that start to go negative during the fifth and sixth weeks of term,” he said. “Students get close to finals week and need to make a decision about what they’re going to eat. It’s a problem and it’s just not fair.”
Dartmouth is currently the only school in the Ivy League that does not have a pay-per-meal plan, according to Newlove.
Students interviewed by The Dartmouth expressed mixed feelings about the new dining plan.
Anthony Diblasi ’12, a member of the varsity football team, said that having the buffet-style option would be “amazing” because “you could eat as much as you want.”
Collin Chideme ’14, who said he is currently “running out of DBA” and is “going to go negative soon,” said that the new plan would help him save money.
Anh Quach ’13, however, said he prefers the a la carte options DBA offers over a pay-per-meal plan because it prevents students from “[getting] tied down having to eat three meals a day.”
The new plan might cost students with smaller appetites more money than the current plan, and may encourage unhealthy eating patterns, Kiko Lam ’14 said.
“When I have to pay for what I want, I tend to eat less,” she said.
The new plan might cost students with smaller appetites a lot more money, Lam said.
As the primary dining facility, the completed ’53 Commons will provide seating for 1,000 people, Newlove said. The building previously have a 700-person capacity.
The renovation of ’53 Commons will cost a total of $30 million, $28 million of which will be spent on the reconstruction of the dining halls. One million dollars is allocated to the transformation of the basement into a social space and the remaining $1 million will be used to preserve the Hovey Murals in the basement of ’53 Commons, according to Newlove. While the Class of 1953 donated $11 million to the renovation, Dartmouth Dining Services will pay back the remainder of the debt in $1.1 million installments for the next 30 years.
The improved energy efficiency of the renovated building will save approximately $300,000 per year, according to Don Blume, fiscal manager of the project. These savings will help pay off the debt, he said.
The building and its equipment are 80 years old and required costly monthly maintenance before the renovations, Blume said. The lack of quality insulation created extreme heating inefficiency in previous years, according to Blume.
The renovated building will be well insulated and will contain an energy-efficient heating and refrigeration system, Blume said. The building will run on propane fuel instead of electricity.
The new social space in the basement of ’53 Commons will be open 24 hours a day and will include a lounge, a mid-size meeting room, a furniture storage room and men’s and women’s restrooms. The basement will also host a convenience store comparable in size to the old Topside and two large meeting rooms, one of which will contain a portable stage.