A proposal for NYU to offer discounted meal plans is looking for student feedback.
Representatives from the Student Senator’s Council and administrators from various offices, who met once last semester, met again to discuss food insecurity and what could be done to address the issue on NYU’s campus. One proposal was to offer discounted meal plans to all students by limiting their options to traditional dining halls.
Founder of Share Meals, Jon Chin, who helped develop the proposal, said that a discounted meal plan could be an effective step forward, and could be especially helpful for certain students.
“I believe some students who have limited funds would appreciate this because it gives them access to nutritious food while still maintaining their dignity and integrity,” Chin said. “They’re able to keep agency and control over their nutrition.”
Chin and Alternate Senator-at-Large for students experiencing food insecurity Jakiyah Bradley priced the plans by using current plans costs-per-meal and applying them to a 175 and 95 meal plan, which — unlike current 175 and 95 meal plans — would not include dining dollars. This allowed their “Bronze Plan” to have savings of around 40 percent compared to most other plans, priced at $1,500 and $800 per semester for 175 and 95 meals, respectively.
The tradeoff is that students would have to eat at one of three traditional, all-you-can-eat dining halls including Downstein, Third Avenue North and Lipton Dining Hall.
Bradley said the proposal stemmed from a town hall she had held last semester, where students brainstormed different potential solutions.
Bradley is also on the Request For Proposal Committee, which will be helping to decide which dining provider gets a five-year contract from the university. Bradley is seeking student feedback through a form in order to gauge interest in the proposal.
She said that administrators had requested her to get feedback by Feb. 11 and that the more responses received, the more it would encourage whichever provider wins the contract to offer lower cost meal plans.
“Having a lot of student responses would be great to show — both dining contractors who are bidding for a contract but also NYU in general — that students are really interested in this because our meal plans, this is something I hear students say a lot, are very very expensive,” Bradley said.
Chin said that it is still important to note that although this is a proposal he supports, people should continue to keep in mind that there is no one solution to food insecurity.
“We have to be careful to make sure we don’t treat this, or any food insecurity initiative, as a silver bullet,” Chin said. “A special meal plan option might help a sizable percentage of students experiencing food insecurity, but it will likely not help everyone. We need to remember the broad spectrum of needs.”
Email Victor Porcelli at [email protected]