Clock with fork and knife

Changes Coming to Meal Plan Options for On-Campus Students

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fall semester 2017 will bring a change to the Campus Meal Plan, offering Penn State students three level options instead of the current six levels. The new streamlined structure will make it simpler for students to choose a meal plan level that reflects their weekly eating habits.

The Campus Meal Plan is comprised of two costs: a Base Cost and Dining Dollars. The Base Cost functions like a plan membership fee and is the same dollar amount for each level. The Base Cost covers the fixed costs of operating residential dining facilities on all Penn State campuses--costs such as maintenance, labor, and utilities. Dining Dollars are used to make purchases and are available as a declining balance account.

Because the Base Cost is paid up front, students with a Campus Meal Plan enjoy a 65 percent discount off cash prices at all-you-care-to-eat dining locations on campus, a 65 percent discount on prepared items at a la carte residential dining locations, and a 10 percent discount on prepared items at retail dining locations. No discount is offered on pre-packaged items or at national chains such as Burger King and Starbucks.

The three levels of the Campus Meal Plan will offer an increasing amount of Dining Dollars. Level 1 will provide about 7 to 10 meals per week, Level 2 will provide 12 to 14 meals per week, and Level 3 covers 16 to 19 meals per week. These meal counts are estimated, as the actual number of meals purchased by each student will vary. Costs incurred will depend upon what the student purchases and the location of the purchase. Students who make additional purchases for convenience items and snacks can expect to spend more Dining Dollars.

The Housing and Food Service (HFS) Contract defaults to Level 2--which is comparable to the previous Level 3--but there's no need to be overly concerned about choosing a plan level in advance. The meal plan level can be modified at any time during the semester, up until the last day of class. This ensures that the student has the appropriate amount of Dining Dollars available to make purchases.

Leftover Dining Dollars from fall semester will carry over to spring semester; any leftover Dining Dollars will be forfeited at the end of spring semester. If a student runs low on Dining Dollars before the end of the semester, the student can either increase the Campus Meal Plan level, add additional Dining Dollars to the meal plan, or add funds to LionCash+. The system is set up to transfer funds from LionCash+ automatically if the Dining Dollar balance is low and still offers the same discounting structure. Having the ability to modify the meal plan level and add additional funds lessens the risk of having leftover Dining Dollars at the end of spring semester.