Make Bard Meal Plan Fair sign now

Dear President Botstein and Chartwells management,

The role of a food service organization hired by an educational institution is to provide the largest number of students possible with nutritious, high quality, a and inexpensive food. This responsibility is even more important when students are required to be on a meal plan.

In order for Bard College and Chartwells to fulfill this obligation to its students, the college must:

Provide different options of the meal plan at different costs. No student should be required to be on the meal plan past their first year.
Lower the costs of the meal plan to bring it in to line with local offerings and other colleges.
Ensure that the meal plan fees are only for food and food preparation costs. Dining facility maintenance costs should be pro-rated based on number of meals on a given meal plan not simply added to every plan equally.
Provide the option for all upperclassmen to opt out of a meal plan and prepare meals for themselves

1. Bards meal plan is too expensive.
a. If Bard requires all students to be on the meal plan, there is an obligation to a cost-effective service.
b. As with a Universal Health care plan, a meal plan is a great idea only as long as it provides the best and cheapest option to the people it serves. Just as it would be unethical and illegal to force citizens to buy health care from a provider that costs twice as much as its competition, it is unreasonable to require all students to purchase a meal plan that is more expensive than the equivalent meals off campus. Bards meal plan is not competitively priced, either with respect to local restaurants, nor in comparison to other colleges

2. When compared to other similar colleges, Bards meal plan is significantly more expensive and inflexible.
a. At Trinity College meal plans range from $1750-$4200 for 150-672 meals and 200 dollars in points. They are also run by Chartwells.
b. At Skidmore students pay $4242 for unlimited food, including late night meals plus 100 dollars a semester in points. Unlike Bard Bucks, these points roll over.
c. At Barnard, students pay $880 and $4575 for between 150 meals and unlimited meals plus 150 points. Points can be used at the bookstore and other locations as well. Past their first year students are not required to be on the meal plan.
d. All of these systems charge less and provide more flexibility than Bard.

3. Bard students pay significantly more to eat at Kline than non-students eating at Kline.
a. The Bard Meal plan currently charges students on the 19-meal plan $1018 more than a non-student buying 19 meals a week at Kline.
b. The 19-meal plan in the 2008-2009 school year costs $5,408 for which a student received 608 meals and 300 Bard Bucks per year. This works out to $8.40 per meal, - if you are a student. However, a visitor is only charged:
c. $4.75 for breakfast, $7.00 for lunch and $8.00 for dinner. Every one of these charges is less than the student rate of $8.51! At this rate someone who was not on the meal plan could eat 19 meals a week at Bard for $4120!
d. Students already pay $37,574 for tuition. To pay 18\% more than someone who just walks of the street is not in keeping with the role of a food service at a college. It fails to live up to the expectation to provide students with inexpensive food.

4. If a student switches to a 10-meal plan they should pay a pro-rated amount based on the meals purchased, not be given Bard Bucks.
a. On a ten-meal plan one is eating approximately 320 meals a year and gets 500 Bard Bucks for $5408. This means that per meal, a student is paying a whopping $15.34 per meal!
b. At this rate a Bard student on the 10-meal plan is paying $2,444 more than someone from off campus who is eating 10 meals a week and spending 500 extra dollars (For Bard Bucks).
c. Bard Bucks are the equivalent of script at a company store- a long discredited form of business. This comparison is not inaccurate given the pricing structure of Down the Road.

5. The prices at Down the Road have become far too high and completely out of line with other dining options, both on and off campus.
a. While neither the food quality nor service has improved noticeably this year, prices at Down the Road have doubled since the summer.
b. The new prices are not consistent with comparable local offerings.
i. A pound burger with a house salad costs $4.95 at the Redhook diner. At Down the Road, a house salad and lb burger costs $14 dollars.
c. It is the responsibility of the college and dining service to keep prices low, not exploit the fact that students are required to be on the meal plan. A good dining service, when faced with two different business plans, should aim for twice the students at half the price, not the other way around.

6. Manor Cafй must revert to the old pricing structure, incorporating every item on the menu into the ABC plan
a. If an item, such as an iced tea, is too expensive to fit as an option on the ABC plan, students should pay a small fee to make up the difference, not be charged for the entire ABC plan and the drink.

7. The meal plan fee should only be for food and food preparation costs.
a. Students on the meal plan shoulder an unfair burden of the grounds maintenance fee. Students from off campus pay a $270 campus use fee. The use of classrooms and academic buildings is the same; the use of dorms should be covered by the Room charge so the only difference is use of the dining facilities. The meal plan fee should not be used for anything other than maintenance of the dining facilities
b. Therefore, students on the 19-meal plan should pay approximately twice as much as students on the 10-meal plan. As it stands now however, students on the 10-meal plan are contributing $1456 more towards costs other than food than a student on a 19-meal plan
c. A sliding scale for the use of the dining hall may be used, assigning proportional fees to each meal plan.

8. In an age where the vast majority of prospective students are starting to use student created review sites to select colleges, we would hate to see Bard suffer due to a meal plan that is not competitive.
a. While students have been using online review sites for a while, more and more are using sites such as, which are created entirely by current student reviews.
b. Students, particularly those for whom financial aid is an issue, will be paying close attention to meal plans. This is particularly true if the meal plans are required and more costly than comparable schools.
c. Unfair meal plans not only are a large financial commitment for prospective students, but they imply a way that a school treats its students, which would not be a good first impression for Bard to give.

The problems that have been laid out are the concern of all students, both current and prospective. It is in Bard Colleges best interest to address these issues expediently and in good faith. We believe that these are honest mistakes that can and must be fixed and we look forward to working with Bard and Chartwells to find solutions that are mutually beneficial.

The Undersigned:

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Shannon StewartBy:
Nature and EnvironmentIn:
Petition target:
President Botstein and Chartwells Managment


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