Have you ever wondered what eating in college is like?

Well, at the University of Tennessee, it is one of the worst dining situations out there.

I am a freshman at UT Knoxville with a mandatory freshman meal plan. I have had the “privilege” to experience the dining halls and the meal plans over the past two months.

The situation has a few problems that need to be fixed, such as price and hours of operation. Fixing these problems will benefit students by allowing them to get what they pay for on the weekends and make their overall morale happier because of a better way to do meal plans.

I have the mandatory freshman meal plan called the 7-Day Access Plan. This meal plan costs $2,115 a semester. It includes unlimited visits to the all-you-can-eat dining halls such as PCB and Fresh Food Company. Also, it comes with 300 dining dollars and three meal swipes a day to be used at chain restaurants.

The biggest rip-off to me personally is that I never eat three meals a day. I pay $2,115 a semester for the 7-Day Access Plan. I usually just eat twice a day, therefore if you subtract the 300 dining dollars and divide by three, I am wasting about $605 a semester.

I am paying for my own college education, so this really upsets me. Every penny counts and the meal plan is definitely not helping my financial situation.

Also, for how much I pay for a meal plan I would think that the food would be of good quality. Food quality is a very big negative for me personally. The food never seems as fresh as it should be for paying $2,115 a semester and the food is consistently cooked incorrectly. Most of the time I feel as if I am eating something that has been frozen for a while, and when the dining hall cooks overcook the food I find myself eating the same things over and over again because they never seem to get it right. Not only is the meal plan a rip-off, but the hours of operation are also horrendous.

There are three different dining halls on campus: PCB, Fresh Food Company and Southern Kitchen. Throughout the week, the dining hall hours are all mostly the same, but the real problem comes on the weekend. The only dining hall that is open on the weekend is PCB and the hours are completely different than a regular week day.

During the week, I can expect the dining halls PCB and Fresh Food Company to open at 7 a.m. and Southern Kitchen to open at 7:30 a.m. Then at 8:00 p.m., all three of them close. But on the weekends, like I said earlier, PCB is the only dining hall open. The weekend hours are from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. With these hours, students are not able to take advantage of their three meals a day.

Students are forced to go somewhere where they must use their dining dollars. Dining dollars are real money that I use at different chain restaurants when I cannot make it to a dining hall. I only get 300 dining dollars a semester so I have to pick and choose when I should or should not use them.

Therefore, the University of Tennessee meal plan and dining halls have problems such as price and hours of operation.

As a student at the University of Tennessee I should be able to customize every part of the meal plan. I should be able to pick how many meal swipes I want a day and how many dining dollars I want to have. Since I am paying for my own education, this will help me worry less about how much money I will need to loan and later pay back.

The hours of operation can be fixed by making PCB open until 9 p.m. on the weekends. This would benefit the students, so they would not have to go somewhere and use their dining dollars. The added hour at night would help students because on the weekend people tend to do things later than usual.

Students will feel as if they are getting more their money’s worth and will be happier because they will not have to worry about when and where they are going to eat.

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