Dining Dollars Negatively Impacts Students

A recent switch in meal plans causes dissatisfaction amongst student body


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

Within the past few years, UW-Platteville has changed its swipe-based meal plan into what is now known as “Dining Dollars.” However, many on-campus students are dissatisfied with this type of meal plan. 

The UW-Platteville website describes the Dining Dollars program as “a debit card with a declining balance of ‘Dining Dollars.’” They then go on to describe the benefits of the “Dining Dollar” system, such as a 50% discount at Bridgeway Stations and a 30% discount at several other eating locations on campus. 

A sophomore in Music Education stated, “When I got the payout, I noticed it felt lower than last year… and then when I looked at the menu, things were more expensive.” That sentiment is not uncommon, as several other students reported that they felt as though they were paying more money than in previous years and getting less in return. 

The same student then went on to say, “Then I did the math for the 105 days that you could possibly eat on campus. If you divided that second-level meal plan up, then you would have less than about $8.95 a day, which isn’t even enough to go to Bridgeway twice.” 

Many students talked about how they were led to believe that Bridgeway was the more cost effective dining location, yet when they were on campus, they realized how little spending money they had. 

A junior in Engineering commented, “(I) wish there was a swipe-based meal plan. I know it’s like a debit card because they want to teach us money management, but all it does is stress me out. I think, on average, I’m eating one meal a day.” 

Food insecurity on campus is a significant problem. Although UW-Platteville claims to be combatting food insecurity through services like Pioneer Provisions, that may not be enough. 

Out of 35 students surveyed, only two of them were able to correctly identify where Pioneer Provisions was and when it is open. Both stated that they had never been to Pioneer Provisions due to its inconvenient and limited hours.

Platteville students also claim to have been feeling “ripped off” due to the dining plan. A freshman in Biology stated that they felt frustrated after going to a student success workshop about stress management and that the host of the seminar said, “Everyone should get three meals a day.” This student, who is on the Tier 4 meal plan, stated that it was “upsetting knowing that even for the most expensive meal plan, I can’t go to Bridgeway the three times a day they encourage. No one can.” 

The biggest overarching critique of the “Dining Dollars” that many students had is that there is no concrete way to get the money back at the end of the year, and the money in students’ accounts does not transfer over to the next year. 

A sophomore in Elementary Education explained how they had over two hundred dollars in their account at the end of their freshman year, and when they checked their account at the beginning of their sophomore year, that money was gone. 

The same sophomore went on to say, “It’s ridiculous. I shouldn’t have to drain my account at the end of the year or spend all my money at GWAM just so they don’t steal it.” Similar complaints were by and large the biggest critique of the “Dining Dollars” system with all the students interviewed echoing this sentiment. 

The Platteville Dining Services website acknowledges that “food is a very important part of a student’s lifestyle.” They also claim to provide a “quality selection of items at reasonable costs.” However, this directly contradicts what the Platteville student body is experiencing.