Carolina Food Co. has changed both the freshman and upperclassman meal plan options for the fall 2021 semester.
The freshman meal plans have been replaced by the Residential All Access Meal Plans. These meal plans allow two retail meal swipes per day, $200 meal plan dollars and unlimited dine-in access to USC’s five on-campus residential restaurants.
The five residential restaurants are Bates Diner, located in Bates House; Fresh Greene's, located in Russell House; Gibbes Court Bistro, located in Capstone House; Honeycomb Café, located in the Honors Residence Hall; and The Community Table, located at 650 Lincoln.
Previously, freshmen were automatically assigned the Garnet 14 Silver meal plan, which gave students 14 meal swipes per week and $25 meal plan dollars. The default meal plan for freshmen is now the Residential All Access meal plan.
“We found that a lot of students weren't enjoying the full value of their meal plan because of those weekly restrictions. So, you know, under the previous structure, if they had 14 meals a week, and they only use 10 of them, those four were lost. So, we're hoping that this provides a lot more value to the meal plan because you're able to use it just at your discretion throughout the semester,” Scott Warner, the marketing director for Carolina Food Co., said.
Students enrolled in the plan also get free membership into the sustainable to-go program.
These changes to the meal plan come with a $200 increase in cost. The Garnet 14 Silver plan cost $1,790, while the Residential All Access meal plan cost $1,990. The new meal plan gets added to freshmen's accounts in mid-July.
Students can choose to upgrade their meal plan to the Residential All Access meal plan with $350 meal plan dollars, rather than the standard $200.
Though these meal plans are primarily designed for freshmen, they are available to all students.
If students are worried about not having enough meal plan dollars, they now have the option to add more to their account at any point in the semester by contacting the CarolinaCard Office.
Previously, students could only add more meal plan dollars when purchasing a meal plan. The benefit of meal plan dollars is that they are tax-free. However, they cannot be used at any off-campus dining accepting Carolina Cash.
Carolina Food Co. also made some additions to its voluntary meal plans, which are geared toward upperclassmen, graduate, international and commuting students. Block 50 now has $375 meal plan dollars and 50 meal swipes, and Block 80 now has $200 meal plan dollars and 80 meal swipes.
There are also now Declining Balance (DCB) Meal Plans that allow students to have a lump sum of declining balance dollars that can be used in all dining locations. Students can choose either $1,500 or $950 declining balance dollars, and the DCB plans costs the equivalent of the declining balance dollars. Declining balance funds are not taxed, so students can save up to 10% on all purchases, according to the Carolina Food Co. website.
“I really wish that I had it last year,” Kathleen Abrams, a second-year biomedical engineering student, said. “Usually, it's fine because I'll at least eat one of my meals at an unlimited place. But if, for some reason, I can only go to Russell House for all three meals, it's kind of a struggle because you only get two retail swipes.”
While some students are enjoying the new changes, not everyone thinks these changes are beneficial.
“What we have was a little better because we had, like, three meal swipes a day or four meal swipes a day, and it was just more, like, at our own discretion,” Salonee Rath, a fourth-year biomedical engineering student, said.