The Den is one of many food locations located on campus that students can no longer use their meal plan swipes at. (KELCIE HARTLEY | THE POLY POST)

Foundation Dining Services lacks transparency about meal plan changes

Students are no strangers to meal plan options at universities; however, Cal Poly Pomona is currently overcharging students for mandatory meal plans and raising cafeteria prices. 

Students with meal plans are currently overpaying anywhere between 80 cents and $4.15 every time they pay with a meal swipe.

The changes made to the 2019-2020 meal plan options were not relayed to students clearly. 

Students are also being shorted meal option point plans and the lower prices from last semester are no longer available.

“At the beginning of the year (the foundation) didn’t tell us about these changes. No email, update or anything,” said Brandon Melson, a second-year political science student. “These were all just thrown at us, so we had no knowledge that the meal system would work this way or rather not work the way it’s currently not working.”

The Den is one of many food locations located on campus that students can no longer use their meal plan swipes at.
(Kelcie Hartley| The Poly Post)

Melson first noticed the changes when he wasn’t able to use his swipes at The Den. 

“I went in to talk to the housing department about it and I was told that you could only use your meal swipes at (Los Olivos),” Melson said.  

Now the cheapest meal plan (Suites Value Flex) has increased $333 in price since the spring semester. 

There are five meal plan options students can choose from. The prices vary between $1,689 for the Suites Value Flex plan to $2,825 for the unlimited plan. 

Taking the overall price of any meal plan, subtracting the meal point value and dividing the remaining amount by the meal swipe value, students can discover how much they are actually paying per meal swipe. The prices vary per meal plan, and are roughly $9.98 to $13.33 per swipe.

Zachary Deigert, a third-year computer information systems student, has been gathering research on meal plan price increases since he applied for fall 2019 housing in the spring semester. Deigert noticed that the meal plan prices had significantly increased. His discoveries about the meal plans lead him to create a Reddit post about the meal plan problems.

Los Olivos has also increased its prices since spring semester. Deigert shows on his Reddit post that an average meal last semester cost $8.88. 

According to, the average price per meal this semester is roughly $9.18, meaning students are overpaying anywhere between 80 cents and $4.15 every time they pay with a meal swipe.

Deigert is constantly updating the Reddit post to keep it current and relevant. The post currently has an impressive 110 upvotes (students addressing the concern) and 80 comments from students who are actively voicing their opinions on the meal plan problems.

Melson also took his concern to Reddit and posted about the meal plan changes. He realized he wasn’t the only student who was upset. 

Through Reddit, Melson collaborated with Deigert and other students to share information about the meal plan problems.

“(For) meal plan A-D, you are not allowed to use the meal swipe anywhere but the cafeteria, but the Suites Value Flex plan is allowed to use it anywhere,” Deigert said. “There are only a few places where you can use your meal swipes and cash out. The Den, Vista Market, the Einstein market and the L.O. (Los Olivos) allow cash-outs for seven dollars.”

Faith Schue, a second-year hospitality student, saw Deigert’s Reddit post and could relate to the struggles many students are facing.

“I had to switch to the (Suites) Flex plan because I had one of the other ones that didn’t let me use my meal swipes to cash out,” Schue said. “I don’t like that we are forced to buy a meal plan because not everyone has the time to go to L.O. to use the swipes. We should at least be allowed to have points and swipes roll over to next semester if we don’t use them.” 

A small group of students was invited to attend a meeting this week at 2 p.m. Sept. 19 with Associated Students Inc. officials to discuss the frustrations and meal plan alterations.

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