As each quarter draws to a close, a swipe-spending scramble begins, resulting in free meals for some and wasted money for others.
“I bought a lot of other people’s meals; I swiped for the whole line one time at Fresh Express,” said Nate Carvin, a first-year in architecture who had 100 swipes left with two weeks remaining in Autumn Quarter.
Carvin started Autumn Quarter with 200 swipes but changed his meal plan to 150.
With about three weeks left in Autumn Quarter, Ari Cohen, a first-year in political science, realized that at the pace she was purchasing meals on campus, she would not exhaust her current balance of 150 swipes by the end of the quarter.
As a student living in the residence halls, Cohen had the option of which meal plan she would purchase at the beginning of Autumn Quarter. The options she had were to purchase her meals, or “swipes,” in bundles of 250, 200, 150, 125 or 100 for the quarter.
Cohen had chosen 250.
Swipes do not roll over to the next quarter.
Students have the option to change their meal plan in the first five weeks of every quarter, according to the University Residences and Dining Services website.
Christy Blessing, director of Housing Services, said this time allows students to settle into a schedule that works for them and adjust their plans accordingly.
Cohen has already changed her Winter Quarter meal plan to 200 swipes. She is one of approximately 1,450 students that changed their meal plan between Dec. 28 to Jan. 8. Blessing estimates another 1,000 students changed their Winter Quarter meal plan before Dec. 28. During the first week of Winter Quarter, an average of 300 students changed their plan each day.
Blessing said the majority of students, like Cohen, make changes to reduce their number of swipes. But there are some students that choose to increase their meal plans.
Cohen spent her extra swipes at various campus grocery stores, such as the Morrill C-Store.
Crystal Dorsey, a third-year in health information management and systems and employee at the C-Store, said the most popular items at the end of the quarter are cases of bottled drinks, including Powerade, VitaminWater, Coca-Cola and Dasani bottled water.
At the C-Store, 24-count cases of Powerade cost five swipes apiece and 24-count cases of VitaminWater cost seven swipes. Given the cost of Cohen’s meal plan for the quarter, $1,565, divided by the number of swipes she purchased, 250, each swipe costs $6.26. Therefore, her five-swipe case of Powerade costs $31.30.
Cohen said she purchased four cases of Powerade.
Cohen had several other ways of using her swipes.
“A bunch of friends and I went to Sloopy’s (Diner) a lot,” Cohen said. “I paid for them all.”
Joe Natalizio, a first-year in biology found himself in a similar situation with 70 swipes remaining with two weeks left in the quarter.
Natalizio said he spent his left-over swipes on three cases of Powerade, snack foods and drinks at Fresh Express. Natalizio had 250 swipes Autumn Quarter and did not change his meal plan for Winter Quarter. He said he has an earlier class this quarter and will eat breakfast most mornings to use his swipes.
Carvin and Natalizio tried to eat at the Blackwell Bistro on campus. The Blackwell offers gourmet meals to students on the meal plan for the cost of swipes. After several attempts to make reservations, The Blackwell informed them they were completely booked for the last two weeks of the quarter.
Cohen was able to get a reservation for herself and seven friends with about three weeks remaining in the quarter. She paid for all her friends with her swipes.
The total came to about 50 swipes, one-fifth of her entire meal plan. Using the cost-per-swipe of $6.26, the real cost of her trip to The Blackwell was $313.
Meal plans can be changed by contacting Housing Services located at 350 Morrill Tower, or by going online at housing.osu.edu/current_dining_changes.asp