BY HARRISON BLUTO
Photo courtesy of The Chaparral.
Meal plans are currently only used at Beep’s Cafe.
College of the Desert’s new student meal plan has launched this 2019 spring semester. The meal plan applies to Beep’s Cafe, located at COD’s main campus in Palm Desert, and uses student ID cards with pre-loaded funds. This meal plan makes COD one of the very few community college campuses in California to have such a program.
You may ask, what exactly is this meal plan, and how does it work? Aside from the advertisements used by the school to promote the new meal plan, students around campus seem to be relatively uninformed about the program and what it entails.
“I’m surprised COD didn’t already have some kind of meal plan,” says COD student Bobby Gunther. Only half of the students surveyed knew a meal plan existed. The other half of the students that know of the meal plan’s existence do not know where the meal plan can be used, and that there are multiple payment options available to them.
The new meal plan has three potential pre-loaded payment options: $50, $100, and $250. According to COD, students who have completed their FAFSA or DREAM Act application can use their Pell Grant, Cal Grant, or any other scholarship funds to pay for the plan. Students with the meal plan use their ID cards when paying for the meal and will be informed on how much money is left on the card after each transaction is made. It is up to students to be aware of the amount of money left and to plan accordingly to make it last for the amount of time they need it to.
“The plan gives the students an opportunity to set aside money for food,” stated Dean of Enrollment services, Dr. Oscar Espinoza-Parra. He hopes the new meal plan system will alleviate concern in students for setting aside money for meals. Rather than putting aside money on a weekly basis, the new meal plan allows students to load their ID cards upfront making the planning process easier.
Students who may not be able to afford the meal plan do not need to worry. According to Parra, the Student Meal Card Fund that allows faculty, staff and donors to give money to those who may not be able to afford it otherwise. The fund is currently in development and will be accessible to students starting the Fall 2019 semester.
“We want to address the food insecurity that occurs on campus,” says Parra. The plan aims to allow students to afford healthy and nutritious meals on campus that students may not have access to otherwise. Students with the meal plan will be able to choose from every option on the Beep’s Cafe menu, allowing them to have a large variety of meals to choose from.
Although the website states that students will “obtain a great deal for their money,” there is currently no discount associated with the meal plan. Parra assures that this is something the school is working on having for students in the future.
In its current state, the meal plan is only applicable to Beep’s Cafe. Parra says that COD is working with Pacific Dining on trying to expand this meal plan to restaurants on other COD campuses.
To sign up for COD’s meal plan, go to College of the Deserts meal plan web page at http://www.collegeofthedesert.edu/students/mealplan.