Students call for meal swipe donation program


An employee swipes a student's CentralCard on Nov. 20 at the Real Food on Campus cafeteria.

Students are calling for the university to implement a program that would allow them to donate meals from their meal plans to other students. 

A petition started by senior Alexandra Garay titled, "CMU students feeding CMU students - creating a meal swipe donation program!" reached more than 2,800 signatures.

The petition was created following tweets discussing a CMU policy that does not allow students to share their meal plans with other students. Students using another student's CentralCard to get meals could be charged $25 and have the card confiscated. 

The policy doesn't just apply to students trying to get meals, but also to any student attempting to use another student's CentralCard said Nikki Smith, campus dining district marketing manager.

"This policy exists for the protection of students’ accounts in the event a card is lost or stolen," Smith said. "There is no way to police at the entrance of a residential restaurant if someone rightfully has access to someone else’s card or not, therefore the policy exists for everyone’s protection."

The policy has been in place for more than 20 years and is listed on the CentralCard website as well as the Campus Dining website, Smith said.

After posting a tweet with the petition, Garay posted another tweet elaborating why she wanted to see change.

"I wanted to clarify something," Garay's tweet read. "I understand that the fines are coming from a 'violation of the code of conduct' for allowing other students to use your ID. They can argue that they don't know if it was stolen or given to them. However, what I am saying is that the policy is flawed."

When students purchase a meal plan, they get an allotted amount of meals per week they can use to access residential cafeterias. Meal plans also come with an allotted amount of "FLEX dollars" per semester that act as credit for purchases in on-campus restaurants, cafeterias, athletic events and stores.

Meal passes for students living on campus start at $9,232 for 10 meals a week with $250 FLEX dollars, and go up to $10,328 for unlimited meals per week and $150 FLEX dollars. Students living on-campus are required to purchase a meal plan. Meal plan costs are calculated for the whole academic year and FLEX dollars are awarded to students each semester.

Meal plans can also be purchased by students who live off-campus. Commuter meal plans start at $796 for 50 meals and $350 FLEX dollars.

All meal plans come with six guest passes per semester that students can use to swipe guests into residential cafeterias. Students can also use FLEX dollars or cash to buy meals for guests.