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Meal plans to increase by an average of $63.43 next year

Although food from UNC’s dining halls might cause some students to get heavier, next year it might cause their wallets to get a little lighter.

Residential meal plan costs will increase next year by an average of $63.43, or nearly 4.6 percent, from $1,384.29 to $1,447.71.

Scott Myers, director of food and vending for Carolina Dining Services, said the increase is due to inflation in the cost of food and plans to raise the minimum wage for all staff.

“One of the things we are really happy about that we have built into the increase is raising our minimum hire rate from $9.25 an hour to $10 an hour,” he said.

But some students who have the problem of leftover meals at the end of the semester are unhappy about the hike, an average 31 cents more per meal across residential plans.

Junior Fiona Day said many students are in a similar position to her, in which they are sold meal plans that do not fit their needs.

“It’s terrible,” she said.

“I think that less and less people will get meal plans if they put the prices up — more and more people will just sit in their rooms and get cereal like me.”

At UNC, 25 percent of all meals bought by students are wasted — revenue that subsidizes Carolina Dining Services’ meal plan prices.

Myers said Carolina Dining Services could not use the income it receives from students’ wasted meals to fund the planned pay raise, as it considers wastage as a factor when calculating the cost of the meal plans.

“Your meal plan prices were based on what you think your costs are and how students will use it,” he said.

“If they use it less, then your costs are less.”

Prices regularly increase due to inflation in food costs, Myers said.

“Pretty much almost every year we try and evaluate meal plans and figure out what the pricing needs to be for the following year,” he said.

“Generally what you’re trying to do, because food costs go up every year, is try and anticipate any kind of changes that you think may happen both from an inflationary stand point and from a programmatic stand point.”

Junior Alex Woods said the price increase is still not justified.

“It’s bollocks,” he said. “You don’t get your money’s worth.”

But students were included in the decision to raise the costs, said Natalie Cooper, head of the Student Dining Board of Directors.

The board, which is a panel of students that works with Carolina Dining Services, approved the increase.

“We have to vote to approve any change that Carolina Dining Services makes. If we don’t approve it then they take it back to the drawing board,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the board agreed with Carolina Dining Services’ efforts to make sure its employees are well paid.

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“Every year the prices for everything rises to account for inflation in food prices,” she said. “But the cool thing this year is that we were able to provide a better experience for all Carolina Dining Services employees.”

Despite the increase, the average cost of a meal plan at UNC is cheaper than those offered by some of its peer institutions.

The average cost of a meal plan at Duke University is $2,495, while the University of Minnesota charges $1,739.40 on average.

UNC continues to charge more than N.C. State University, where the average meal plan costs $1,109.29.

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