Meal Plan Prices Increase Another Year In a Row

Loyola meal plan prices to increase between 4 and 4.5%.

All of Loyola’s meal plans have increased in price between 4 and 4.5% this year, compared to previous years, following an equivalent increase in tuition, according to a statement from January.

The cost of the 7-Day All Access Plan #1 went from $2,885 a semester in the 2022-23 school year to $3,005 a semester in the 2023-24 school year, according to Loyola’s website. All other meal plans have increased at the same rate.

Wayne Magdziarz, the university’s senior vice president, chief financial officer and chief business officer, explained the increasing operating budget in a statement.

“Record inflation, a red-hot job market, and rising operating costs have all contributed to financial stresses we have not seen in decades,” Magdziarz said. 

In the statement, Magdziarz also said the student activity fee will increase by 4 to 4.5% in addition to the All-Access meal plan prices.

Third-year student Maya Madera said she is upset with the high prices, which have grown each year she has been at Loyola. 

“It’s frustrating mainly because there’s already the increase in tuition, so another cost is just another thing to worry about,” Madera said. 

Loyola’s food service provider Aramark didn’t respond to The Phoenix’s requests for comment.

For plans such as the 7-Day All Access Plan #1 students can expect to pay roughly $187 per week given there’s 16 weeks in the semester. Second-year international business major Jaidan Odorisi said she is concerned about the cost breakdown, especially for students in apartment-style dorms. 

Odorisi said taking classes at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus has limited her use of her meal plan. The downtown campus has two dining options, Lu’s Deli and Nina’s Cafe, where students can use dining dollars or meal plan swipes. However, these locations aren’t buffet-style and have a set menu.

“The meal plans with dining dollars only cover certain food options downtown at Water Tower,” Odorisi said. “Buying groceries and cooking in your dorm would cost less than the new price for meal plans.”

First and second-year students are required to choose from the 5-Day or 7-Day Meal Plans, while non-resident students or upperclassmen can choose from any of Loyola’s Block Plans, Dining Dollar Plans or All-Access plans. 

Loyola offers plans designed for students who will only eat at the dining halls a few times per week– these are called the Small & Medium Dining Dollar Declining Balance Plan. These plans have dining dollars which could be used for entry to dining halls or for dining-dollar locations, and are offered to commuter students, transfer students and upperclassmen. Students can seek an exemption from their meal plans through the Student Accessibility Center. 

First and second-year students living in the dorms, with the exception of Baumhart Hall downtown, are required to choose a meal plan, according to Residence Life. Second-year student Emmy Lawless, who lives in an apartment-style dorm, said she was surprised by this requirement and feels it’s unnecessary. 

“When you’re a sophomore, you can only get the five day or seven day [meal plan], and you can’t do the declining one since that’s only for juniors, seniors, transfer students and commuters,” Lawless said. “There’s really no need for me to eat at the dining halls, and the increase is crazy, because we’re not getting new meals. It’s the same food from last year.”

Second-year Olivia Scott said students have to work around the system in order to afford the rising prices.

“I do think a lot more people are trying to get around it, like submitting accommodations or doctor’s notes or things like that,” Scott said.  “I have heard some stories, and I don’t want to say they wouldn’t have to lie if they would just have a fair price, but people definitely just pay it because they have to and then are more annoyed by it.” 

Madera is also frustrated with the current meal options and food quality at Loyola’s dining halls. Last year a student was sent to the emergency room due to food poisoning after eating at Damen Dining Hall, The Phoenix previously reported

“The dining halls aren’t particularly known for the best quality food, so it is annoying that they’re raising the prices,” Madera said.

Madera also raised concerns over the student retention at Loyola. She said the consistent increase in prices may drive people away from staying at the university. 

“It definitely can affect student retention in the sense that students are less likely to re-enroll, because of the bad experiences they’ve had with the dining halls,” Madera said. “Why would you pay more for a meal plan when the food has been known to be undercooked or cause food poisoning?”

In 2020-2021, Loyola saw an undergraduate retention rate of 87.5%, according to the university’s website. During the 2021-22 academic year, the retention rate lowered to 81.2%.

Lawless said she agrees with Madera and is concerned over the rising costs at Loyola. 

“If the prices get too high, people will transfer,” Lawless said. “The tuition is already very high, and without scholarships, there’s no way to pay for it.”

This story was written by Jules Galway and Zoe Smith

Featured image by Lilly Bates / The Phoenix

The Phoenix Staff

The Phoenix Staff