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Meal plan includes more flex points

Kathy Lee | Thursday, September 8, 2005

Students with the “Flex 14” meal plan were in for a pleasant surprise this fall when they checked their balance at Notre Dame Food Services thanks to the allotment of 280 flex points rather than the 260 given in years past.

Flex Points, dollars set aside in students’ accounts to be spent only at food venues on campus, are often preferred by students who would rather eat at other food establishments than North or South Dining Halls for meals.

“Flex points are a lot more convenient than using cash, and offer variety from the dining hall,” sophomore Amanda Deckelman said.

The “Flex 14” plan provides students with 14 meals a week and an allowance of flex points. As the default meal plan for all residential students approximately 96 percent of students on campus choose the “Flex 14” plan over the 21-meal plan, according to Dave Prentkowski Director of Food Services.

The extra 20 points were added to the meal plan because students complained that all of the allotted 260 points were consumed before the end of the semester, Prentkowski said.

In order to answer student complaints, the Notre Dame Student Senate discussed last spring the possibility of creating a new “Flex-10” plan that would give students only 10 meals a week, but grant students a greater amount of flex points.

The Senate was unable to pass the movement for several reasons including objections from the dining halls that said the increased flex points would be too expensive and some services of the dining hall might have to be cut to cover the extra cost.

“A 10 meal plan was not adopted for a number of reasons… [For one], The Office of Student Affairs interest in encouraging community dining hall based meals as much as possible,” Prentkowski said.

“I didn’t even know about it but it was a pleasant surprise. I feel like my schedule is busier and I end up using more points than in previous years,” said junior Ashley Kelly.

While it is true that the students have more nominal flex points, the value of those points decreased slightly, Prentkowski said.

“It should be noted that Notre Dame increases the Flex portion of the meal plan each year to assure that the students do not lose purchasing power due to inflationary price increases,” he said. “In fact, the increase, most years, is higher than general retail inflation and is related to the percentage of the increase of the cost of room and board.”

While the dining halls were wary of the proposed new increased flex point meal plan, other Food Service establishments such as Reckers, and the Huddle were much more accepting.

Prentkowski conceded that more flex points might produce more revenue but said it could hurt service.

“While the campus retail operations may generate more revenue from added flex dollars in the system the additional traffic may, at times, over tax the operation to the point of insufficient and slow service,” Prentkowski said, citing the long lines as Subway as an example.

Along with the arrival of more flex points, there are now more venues on campus accepting the points as a form of payment. Starting this fall, the Bookstore Coffee Shop began accepting flex points.

Though the number of flex points has increased, some students still wish there were more.

“There are enough to make a student have to learn to make decisions about spending. They could give me 500 points and I’d find a way to spend them but with a more limited supply, you become more selective in your purchases,” junior Ashley Kelly said.