Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

More than 10 percent of Dining Dollars go unused each year

Every UA student is well aware of the mandatory purchases of $300 in Dining Dollars and a freshman year meal plan that are required. But like so many plates at the dining halls, there are often leftovers on student accounts. What happens to those?

Mandatory Dining Dollars have been debated so much that students have taken the issue to court. The dining dollar balance on each student’s account at the end of the semester is transferred to become Bama Cash, which can be used on campus and at various food locations around Tuscaloosa.

“Of the total deposits to Dining Dollars each year the average refunded per student request is less than 1% of the total deposits and about 12% of total deposits are rolled to Bama Cash,” said Kristina Hopton-Jones, director of University Dining Service. “This is surprisingly consistent year to year.”

“I think that the 300 dollars is a good price for student who have meal plans and eat on campus a lot,” said Jessica Jackson, a sophomore majoring in exercise and sports science. “I have never used my entire amount of Dining Dollars. However, for people who live off campus and use their Dining Dollars every day, I think that this could be increased because they use that money like it’s nothing.”

Meal plans do roll over from the fall to spring semesters but are eliminated after the spring.

“Meal Plan balances do not roll over [after the spring] because the funds collected as payment for the meal plan are budgeted to allow Bama Dining to purchase food, pay workers, pay for utility and maintenance charges and all other operating costs involved in serving over 1 million meals per year,” Hopton-Jones said. “Bama Dining prepares meals for all students currently enrolled in a meal plan for each meal anticipating they will utilize their plan. At the end of the spring semester, the total fee paid for the meal plan purchased has been used to operate the dining facilities throughout the academic year.”

As the semesters come to a close, some students are left with only a guest meal swipe to use, while others end up with a large number of unused meals.

“I think that meal plans should roll over for those who purchase the mega meal plans at the beginning of the semester,” said Beonica Taylor, a junior majoring in English. “I think those people who have the smaller meal plans should have the option of receiving more Dining Dollars. The price of meal plans is a little steep so they should roll over.”

All freshman students are required to get at least a Bama Silver plan as a part of Bama Dining’s First-Year Experience. There is an exemption form available for those freshmen who have dietary conflicts.

Meal plan options for freshmen go from Bama Silver’s 160 per semester to an unlimited plan. Jackson said she purchased the Bama Unlimited plan.

“I have had an unlimited meal plan for my entire time here at the Capstone,” she said. “I hate not being able to eat when I want to, and I also hate the fact that I always have to pay like 10 dollars for meals that don’t even fill me up at fast food restaurants. I love the easiness of the dining halls, as well as being able to eat however much I want and not having to keep paying for it.”

Bama Dining offers special, smaller meal plan deals closer to the end of the semester for students who are running low on meals. The company has been advertising their Thrifty 20 and Bama 50 plans around campus.

“The 20 meal plans they offer at the end of the semester is a good idea for those who want to spend that money,” Taylor said. “I’m glad they offer it but, personally, wouldn’t pay extra for it for the last few weeks in school.”


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