Wellesley Fresh has clearly been trying to provide delicious and healthy meals, yet has fallen short with these efforts. Them missing the mark and providing unsatisfactory meals makes me question the $4,292 I paid this semester for the mandatory meal plan. Let me give you the breakdown of that price. That is the cost of 342 meals, which is 114 days times three meals per day (a rough estimation), which comes down to $12.50 per meal. While that is a fair amount to pay for a meal, what happens on the days you reel in disgust at the entree counter? When the dining hall messes up cheese pasta is when you know this place needs an upgrade. Some meals provided are not only edible but also cherished, like the fried rice with egg with a cult following on campus. Sadly, these are the exceptions, not common occurrences at Wellesley’s dining halls.
As a vegetarian, Lulu and Tower often make me switch between greasy pizza and the same old salad. I am either incredibly healthy but unsatisfied or regretting my third slice of pizza of the day. On some delightful occasions the food at the grill will be excellent and those are the meals which make my day. On the other hand there are times the grill doesn’t even have a vegetarian/vegan alternative. I understand that Stone D provides the vegetarian/vegan/kosher menu, but as someone that lives in Cazenove, that is not a walk I can make three times a day. My money’s worth is not provided on these days. There have been times I have been frustrated enough with the dining options to skip meals and sip tea. This is cultivating negative snacking habits where I’m turning to chips, muffins and coffee. Today, for example, my dinner was a chocolate chip muffin and a mocha.
There is a commonly followed rule in Wellesley — work hard, party hard. Which means everyone is out on the weekends. What happens to the money students pay for those meals? We end up eating only one or two meals on the weekends. Apparently the cost of meals is worth it since we have access to the dining halls at all times. First of all, no we don’t, they all close at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and Lulu’s late night is a scam. 10 p.m. is not late enough for college students, and by that hour very few options are left. Second of all, very few people go to dining halls more than three times a day. Most people purchase their snacks externally. Even if you do go between meal times, all that is provided is bread, fruit and desert. The repetitiveness of the dining hall often causes students to order food or cook on our own. I would also like to mention that $12.50 is 937Rs (Indian Rupees). This is the amount we pay to feed two people at a decent restaurant in India. For the US this is a competitive price, but if I’m not consuming that much, I would rather save my parents’ hard-earned money.
The meal plan is a requirement at Wellesley for most students, and even if we could get off the meal plan, students are restrained by lack of time or inability to cook or both. I completely relate to being crunched for time — there is no way I can cook breakfast for my 8:30 a.m. classes. However, the only alternative is to live in a co-op or off campus. Hence I propose we switch to a system where we pay for the meals we eat. We already have a OneCard system that records our entry and exit. Let’s have it count the number of times we use dining services over a semester and make us pay only for those meals. I strongly believe we would end up paying less to the dining services. We would probably use the same amount of money by ordering in, eating out or making our own food, but at least we would make full use of that $4,000. If you agree with this, please email me or message me on Instagram and let’s make this happen. My email is email@example.com and my Instagram is @edha.singh.