Kuntzman: CWRU should make portable meal swipes active earlier in the day

Caroline Kuntzman, Staff Writer

At Case Western Reserve University, undergraduate students can choose to sign up for one of many meal plans, ranging from unlimited meal plans with seven portable swipes down to five meal swipes with three portable swipes. With a wide array of dining options around campus, CWRU students can eat at a variety of locations. While the multitude of dining options helps students find meals in between classes, the discrepancy between when dining locations open and when they start accepting meal swipes makes portable meal swipes less accessible and valuable for students.

Most CWRU undergraduate courses fall into a fairly predictable calendar schedule, with time blocks at 9:30-10:20 a.m., 10:35-11:25 a.m., 11:40 a.m.-12:30 p.m., or 2:15-3:05 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; 8-9:15 a.m., 12:45-2 p.m., or 3:20-4:35 p.m., Monday and Wednesday; and 8:30-9:45 a.m., 10-11:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m., 1-2:15 pm.m, 2:30-3:45 p.m., and 4-5:15 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. This is not to say that there are no classes outside of this schedule, as evening, single credit and two and a half hour classes exist. However, the timeframes listed generally describe a common pattern of classes for undergraduate students.

Determining when exactly an individual student will want to eat during the day can be somewhat difficult, but breaks are an important deciding factor. For students who have a long break from late morning to early afternoon, taking a lunch break is fairly straightforward, but for students with classes during this time, it can be more challenging, as they have fewer options to choose from. Given that most portable meal swipe locations don’t start accepting swipes before 11 a.m., students with classes starting at or around this time may be unable to eat beforehand, presenting a problem if they have consecutive classes. 

Ensuring the accessibility of multiple dining locations to use meal swipes is especially beneficial for students with specific dietary needs. While many dining locations accommodate students with different diets, such as offering vegetarian options,  providing several dining locations to students with dietary restrictions helps ensure that they have a variety of options to help meet personal preferences. 

Given that some dining locations open before they start accepting portable meal swipes, it should not be difficult for places that would already be open to allow students to use their portable meal swipes for an extended period. For example, Melt University, Pinzas/8Twenty6 and Pearl’s Kitchen all open at 11 a.m., even though students can’t use portable meal swipes there before 1 p.m. Increasing the time frame for using meal swipes at various locations would make portable meal swipes more beneficial for students and reduce potential confusion for when these are available for use. 

Students have enough to be stressed about without facing the potential logistical challenges of eating a meal. Ensuring that students can easily get food during the day is one very simple way to make their days easier. Moreover, college students are at an elevated risk for developing eating disorders, with approximately 4-10% of college men and 10-20% of college women living with an eating disorder. Research about the impact of issues with accessing food and developing an eating disorder is limited, but it suggests a positive correlation between the two. Resources such as the Physical Resource Center can help students facing food insecurity, but ensuring that students with meal plans can use them is another way to increase access to food.

To learn more about the physical resource, please visit this link: Home – Physical Resource Center (Free Store) | Case Western Reserve University.