Meal Plans are scams

Restaurant bill: $10.00 food
$17.50 Equipment and Labor cost
Total $27.50

Have you seen such a bill ? Would you not be perturbed or amused or angry?

Well, guess what, that is how Virginia Tech charges for on-campus meal plans.From $1687 that they make students pay for a Major meal plan, they deduct $1037 for equipment and labor cost and then put only $590 as flex dollars for students to purchase meals. And this is not clearly advertised in their documents or orientations.

And their cheekiness does not end here. They claim to give 50% to 67% discount!!! Voila - have you heard of those ‘Sales’ where the retailer jacks up the ticket by 175% and then offers you a 50% discount! That is exactly what is happening here. So a meal that they claim you are paying $2.50 is actually costing you $6.89 AFTER the purported 50% or 67% discount.

Common hokies, call a hokie a hokie - not a con bird.

In the end, you are paying the $6.90 per meal. This is still a reasonable cost no matter how you split the cost between food and fixed labor/OH. I agree they should be more clear on how the cost are split so people understand why instantly their balance decreases significantly from day 1 and they do not panic that they are going to run out of $. I am betting it has something to do with the way they have to account for funding and the different buckets of $. BTW - when you move off campus, do not get a commuter plan or you will have this same issue. Just sign up for dining dollars (I think it is called this) and you get a 5% disc and no tax at the on campus locations with no amount being deducted off the top for OH. (unless this has changed from last year)

I agree it is still a reasonable cost but how it is presented could be improved. Commuters have the option of the Minor Flex Plan ($863/semester) for which $518 goes to mortgage,utilities, and labor costs leaving you with $345 for food. You do get 50% discount at the “a la carte” facilities and 67% discount at the all you can locations. The other option is the Commuter Cash Dining Plan which costs $275 and the money is put on your Hokie Passport. Additional dollars added enable you to receive a 5% discount on purchases.

The pricing transparency of the meal plans may be something new to most people. Normally when you go to a restaurant the menu shows a price that includes the cost of food, equipment, rent and some labor costs. After you get your bill you pay additional amounts for sales taxes (in some parts of Va the sales tax and meals tax can be 10%+). Then on top of that you have to pay labor costs of the server by tipping. When my final bill is almost 1/3 higher than the menu price I could shout to everyone that it’s a scam. It’s not as long as you understand the pricing system.

For VT they have separated the cost of the actual food ingredients from the cost of preparing and providing the meal. In your major meal example, almost 2/3 of the price of meal is infrastructure - - only 1/3 is the food ingredients. That’s probably fairly reasonable in the restaurant industry. If you go to Dietrich and they charge your plan $4 that is only the cost of the ingredients. If you thought you were going to pay $4 and get a $20 meal then you were mistaken.

This is the norm at every college and any food establishment. As stated above, this information is also publicly available on their website. I knew this information when I started at Tech, which is why I did not buy a meal plan when I lived off campus.