Starting Monday, May 29, the Market at Munger will begin accepting meal plan dollars again for food items. According to Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE), the change was prompted by student feedback after the campus grocery and convenience store stopped accepting meal plan dollars at the start of this school year.
“We have heard individually from a number of students who shared with us the importance of Munger Market in ensuring they have affordable, healthy food options outside the dining halls,” wrote Jocelyn Breeland, a spokesperson for R&DE, in an email to The Daily.
While the Market at Munger will take meal plan dollars for food, other items such as medicine, flowers and miscellaneous supplies must be purchased with Cardinal Dollars or a credit card, according to a sign posted outside the store. Under an old pilot program that R&DE launched in 2013 and ended last summer, the Market at Munger accepted meal plan dollars for all products, from toiletries to clothes.
Breeland said that meal plan dollars have always been intended to provide students with food; Munger’s old payment system could not distinguish between food and non-food items, and so students could purchase a wider range of items.
“When we hear from students about their need to use Meal Plan Dollars in the Market, it is always in the context of healthy and economical food purchases,” she said. “The existing policy meets the needs students have expressed and the purpose of the meal plan dollar program.”
Breeland told The Daily in September that R&DE eliminated meal plan dollars at the Market at Munger last year in order to shift dollar use toward more campus locations that serve prepared meals. This year, Russo Café at the Munger Graduate Residence as well as two new eateries in Tresidder Union, BBQ101 and Stadium Grille, began accepting meal plan dollars (dessert shop Decadence has now replaced Stadium Grille in Tresidder).
Students who spoke to The Daily were happy with the new additions, but some lamented the loss of the Market at Munger as a meal plan resource until now.
“On-campus prices can be high,” said Joshua Seawell ’18. “I haven’t been as eager to go to Munger without the option of paying in meal plan dollars.”
Before the Market began accepting meal plan dollars for the first time in 2013, students were only able to use Cardinal Dollars or cash to purchase items at the store. At the time of the pilot program’s launch, R&DE explained that the decision to accept the payment arose from a desire to increase students’ options in using their meal plan dollars.
The dollars are included with most undergraduate meal plans. The amount included depends on the type of meal plan students choose; for example, a 10-meal-per-week plan comes with 750 meal plan dollars per year, or 250 per quarter, while a 19-meal-per-week plan includes none.
Unlike Cardinal Dollars, which are purchased from Stanford Dining and do not expire, only a maximum of 50 unused meal plan dollars can transfer at the end of each quarter, and they all expire at the end of the academic year. As a result, students often attempt to use up their meal plan dollars before the end of a quarter.
Christie Hartono ’19 is happy the Market at Munger once again will serve as an option for using up her leftover dollars.
“I don’t have to go off-campus and spend extra money to buy some groceries,” she said.
Other students cited the convenience of an on-campus grocery store as a reason they choose to shop at Munger.
“You can’t get certain foods, like grapes, anywhere else on campus on-demand,” Seawell said.
Breeland explained that student input, including through outreach efforts and focus groups during winter quarter, was instrumental in R&DE’s decision to restore meal plan dollars.
“We are happy to reinstate meal plan dollars at Munger Market to support our students,” she said.
Contact Sarah Ortlip-Sommers at sortlip ‘at’ stanford.edu.
This post has been updated with Breeland’s response to an additional question about a change in which items can be bought at Munger with meal plan dollars.