Millersville tudents are enjoying more food options at The Galley. Photo courtesy of Kat Delaney / The Snapper
Starting this week, Millersville expanded the Anchor and the Galley’s meal options to beyond the preset meals. In exchange for a meal swipe, students are allowed to pick one entree, a snack, and a drink from a menu of choices. This change reflects Millersville administration’s willingness to listen and adapt to feedback from students.
With many students’ return to campus also came meal swipes as Millersville’s returning meal plan system. The previous meal system from the 2019-2020 academic year, known as declining balance, simply gave students an allowance per semester to purchase anything sold in Millersville’s dining locations.
I remember being confused when choosing my meal plan this semester, seeing the plan listed as “14 meals per week” rather than a set cash amount. Upon entering the Anchor the first week, I became more confused by the “combo” system, realizing over half of the Anchor’s food became inaccessible.
I went back to my dorm, laughed at the situation with my roommate, and then proceeded to eat my better-than-expected chicken salad sandwich. As annoying as the limited options were, I understood that the campus returning to full capacity would bring some obstacles.
Unknown to me, other Millersville students were not as indifferent to the new plan. For the first week of the semester, Millersville’s social media accounts were flooded with students criticizing the swipe system. “Fix the meal plan” and “I’m hungry” comments on every Millersville post this first week. Students became passionate enough that multiple petitions to change the meal plan surfaced, one reaching around 1,500 signatures, according to change.org.
In a bizarre way, it was endearing to see so many students band together for a common cause. Students also have every right to voice concerns regarding the campus.
Students got their voices heard quickly: on Wednesday, Aug. 25, Millersville administration released a lengthy response to concerns regarding dining services. While the initial response didn’t extensively address meal plan changes, it addressed that issues with dining would be discussed amongst the Student Government Association.
The next day, SGA held a town hall meeting for students to express their concerns in person. While student attendance was lower than expected, likely with many students accepting the changes, students, dining leadership, and SGA leadership were able to civilly discuss the situation.
“There’s a lot of movement on changes for the combos [and] what those are going to look like,” SGA President Leizel Schlott said, “[Dining Services] are hearing the concerns and they are working on it.”
The week then ended with another campus-wide email from Millersville Administration. Major improvements were already made by the second week, as starting on Aug. 30, breakfast options became available for students at the Anchor at 7:30 a.m.. In addition, student dining workers’ wages increased from $9 per hour to $11.
With the removal of the limited combo system, I appreciate Millersville leadership’s communication through this situation. The last thing administration probably wanted after finally returning to campus was students furious about the meal plan. Yet they addressed the issue as fast as possible, worked with student leadership, and made substantial changes by the fourth week of the academic year.
I also hope including new items not found in the previous combos encourages dining to produce more of the items. For example, with sushi now being considered an entree, I hope it becomes more available, at least around lunchtime.
Did I like the flexibility of the past meal plan? Yes, but I understand there are likely variables that made declining balance harder to manage for administration. Not to mention, declining balance dollars went away after the academic year finished, which does add stress towards the end of the academic year.
The new menu is a great improvement which will likely be better implemented as more student dining workers are hired. Millersville created a solid compromise between fans of the past and new meal systems, along with providing incentives for students to help dining’s efficiency. I hope this current level of feedback response and communication remains throughout the academic year.