Student, faculty and staff voices help shape changes to meal plan set to take effect fall 2018

December 15, 2017

Student feedback is helping shape meal plan options set to roll out for new University Housing residents next year.

“We’ve heard from campus stakeholders, and we want to be responsive to their ideas about cultivating a plan that works best for all Housing residents,” University Housing Director Jeff Novak says.

Beginning next fall, all new residents of University Housing will be asked to select one of three tiers for food purchases for the 2018-19 academic year. The amount will be part of the student’s total room and board, and will be deposited on the Resident Food Account on their Wiscard, which is used exclusively for on-campus dining.

Campus has made several key revisions to the plan resulting from student feedback:

  • Students will have the ability to carry over unused meal plan funds on their Resident Food Account to the next academic year.
  • The plan will include an appeals process for students who may want to opt out for religious or dietary reasons or other special circumstances.
  • The plan will be reviewed after two years to determine whether additional changes are needed to ensure that it is meeting the dietary needs of students. Student representation will be included in the review process.

Novak says the new tiered meal plan responds to requests from families and students to include room and board as one fee to allow them to budget their expenses.

“We believe strongly that this policy supports students and families by providing them clearer information about food costs and allowing them to budget more accurately over the course of the academic year,” Novak says.

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Laurent Heller says it is important to have the meal plan finalized as UW–Madison begins admitting students for the 2018-19 academic year.

“We heard from students who had concerns about some unintended consequences of the shift to a tiered meal plan,” he says. “We feel these changes will allow us to better meet our students’ needs while still achieving the key benefits of the new plan.”

UW-Madison offers the most affordable room and board plan among the universities in the Big Ten conference. It is the only Big 10 university to maintain a purely a la carte program.

For more information about the new meal plan structure, please read the FAQ.