Words by Lauryn Rosinski
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Well, Kent State family and friends, it is almost the end of the school year. The coursework will increase, the weather will (hopefully) get better, and many students will say goodbye to the residence halls, apartments and houses they have grown used to over the past year.
The end of the school year also causes panic among students who live on campus. This is not entirely caused by exams, homework and strenuous packing; it is caused by the fear of having too much money on their meal plan and not having enough ways to spend it.
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Most of you probably know how the meal plan works. For those of you who don’t, I will briefly explain. The meal plan is similar to a debit card system: every time you go to buy groceries or food from any of the on-campus dining locations, you are charged for each individual item. Four plans are offered for on-campus students: the Lite Plan, the Basic Plan, the Premier Plan and the Premier Plus Plan. For students with the Premier and Premier Plus plans, your money rolls over from semester to semester and then year to year. For students with the Lite or Basic plans, your money does roll over from fall to spring semester; however, your money will not roll over from spring to the next fall semester.
One aspect of the meal plan that is incredibly important for students to know about is if you have the Lite or Basic, you will not be reimbursed with your leftover money by the end of the spring semester. If you have the Premier or Premier Plus Plan, you will not be reimbursed your leftover money when you move off campus or graduate. You better use it or lose it.
I remember living on campus and thinking, “My meal plan is like Monopoly money. It is not real, and I can spend it how I want to.” However, your meal plan is real money that you, your parents or guardians have put their savings toward. I remember that I had a week of classes to go, and I had over $300 to spend. I could not get my money back and make it rain like I wanted to. I really did not want to see that money go to waste, but I did not know how to spend it.
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If you are currently in the same boat I was in my freshman year of college, I have provided some tips to help you spend your leftover meal plan money in a smart, productive way.
- Go to the Prentice and Eastway Markets, and GO NUTS!
We—the Golden Flashes—are lucky to have multiple markets to shop. We are extra lucky that there are bulks of food waiting to get bought by hungry college students. Use these markets to your advantage. You can buy non-perishable food items, kitchen utensils, beverages and more in large quantities at these places, especially toward the end of the school year. Trust me: future you will thank present you for saving yourself some money on groceries. These markets get packed by the end of the year, but it is totally worth the wait and the crowds of people.
- Treat your family and friends
Friends and family like food, too. They would especially like free food that is provided by a loved one with a meal plan. Treat these people. They have probably supported you at some point during this semester, and food is a great way to show your appreciation. By all means, you do not have to bring every grandparent, cousin, second cousin and kid you knew in high school to dinner or lunch. Just bring a few loved ones you know will go ham in Quaker Steak and Lube, the Eastway Market and Deli, or Kent Market 2.
- Be a Swifey
“Swifey” is a term I have heard from several students on campus. I am not sure what its origins are, but I understand its meaning. Basically, a “swifey” is someone who uses their swipes for friends, coworkers or classmates who do not have a meal plan. As a commuter, I find myself spending a lot of money on groceries and food I cannot afford but choose to buy because I like to “stick it to the man.” Anyways, I always appreciate my tour guide coworkers who have a meal plan and offer to swipe for a lunch. It is hard for those without meal plan, so please show us some sympathy and buy us some pasta from Olives.
- Donate food to a food drive
I feel that this is a way to spend meal plan money that students do not typically think about, and I think students could really make a difference by donating food they have bought with their meal plan to those in need. Instead of buying a huge chocolate bar for $50, buy several boxes of food and donate it to food banks. Oftentimes, boxes for the food bank are right outside the Eastway Market and Deli. You can simply put the food you have bought in the box and make a difference with your swipes for hungry families.
I hope these tips will help you in your swiping endeavors. Have a great day and remember, I am always open to some extra swipes.
Are there any food places/food topics you want me to write about? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!