‘Reclaim Your Meal Swipes’ campaign has students hungry for change

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Freshmen at N.C. Central University believe that Eagle Dining Services has bit off more of their money than they’re allowed to chew.

At 10:55 p.m. last night, political science freshman Jordan Thomas sent an email to an undisclosed number of NCCU students with the subject line “Reclaim Your Meal Swipes.” The email read as follows:

Dear fellow eagles,

The following is a link to a petition to bring attention to the unjust way the required freshmen meal plan is administered. We are paying for twenty-one meals a week to only be given access to nineteen. It’s unethical and needs to change now!

A link to a Change.org petition created by a group called “The RoundTable” followed, reiterating the point made in the email and adding that, by signing this petition, “you (the signer) agree that you also have been a victim of this theft.” The petition is presently set to be delivered to Thomas and four other students, presumably to then give to the administration.

More than 30 students have already signed the petition with some leaving additional reasons for signing in the comments.

“It’s ridiculous to pay for a service I am not getting,” said biology junior Janeen Reynolds. “It’s about time we petition this.”

The idea for the petition came about after Thomas and other students were discussing how they would be able to afford textbooks for the current semester.

“One of us decided to look at our eBill and see the breakdown of what we were paying for when coming here,” Thomas explained. “When we looked at the outrageous price of the meal plan, one of us also wondered why it’s required for freshmen to have this particular meal plan.”

From there, the group started to delve deeper into the specifications of what the plan entailed by visiting Eagle Dining Services’ website where it reiterated that NCCU freshmen are required to purchase plan “Q,” which entitles them to 21 meals per week and $225 Flex Dollars. The plan, which is the most expensive out of all available options, costs $1,875.87 per semester.

The group realized that there was no way that they were getting 21 meals each week when W.G. Pearson Cafeteria is only open for 19 meals.

Thomas says that cafeteria workers he’s spoken to refer to the meal availability issue as the “missing meal factor” and that the impossibility of students with plan “Q” to use all of their swipes lines Sodexo’s pockets with extra profit.

“If they know this and know that the students can’t using the swipes that they paid for, it seems to me like we are forcing them to make a profit,” he argues. “It seems unethical.”

Thomas also compared NCCU’s meal plan options to those of North Carolina A&T in Greensboro to see how NCCU stacked up with their Aggie counterparts.

Freshmen attending A&T have three plans to choose from — “U,” “A” or “B” — with the least expensive plan, offering 19 meals each week and $150 Flex Dollars per semester for $1,700.54. The closest NCCU meal plan to that in regard to pricing is “R,” which offers 14 meals per week and $300 Flex Dollars for $1,727.32. However, that plan is only available to sophomores and higher and ignores the fact that the vast majority of retail locations that accept Flex Dollars are closed on the weekends as well.

Thomas believes that the issue can be solved through several different solutions with the most direct and appropriate way being Eagle Dining Services refunding students money for the unused swipes.

“If not, then I believe that we (the students and Eagle Dining Services) should negotiate through a town hall meeting and amend current policy and make it better for the classes that come behind 2021,” Thomas says.

Freshman class president Palace Jones agrees with the petitioners, adding that the current meal plan requirement “is wasting our money altogether.”

“The plan should be altered so we can utilize all 21 swipes or save our money and use the dining opportunities that we have now,” Jones says.

A representative from Eagle Dining Services could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

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