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Photo: Jalcyn McRae-Sadik.

Recently, Ryerson University altered the structure of its meal plan funds, giving students options to reallocate any funds that remain at the end of the year, instead of having leftover funds go directly to Food Services.

New options for Ryerson students include carrying remaining money over to their card to be used next year, transferring it to their Campus Funds—which cover a range of services similar to the University of Ottawa’s Flex dollars—donate the remaining amount to emergency food funds, or put it into their Ryerson Administrative Management Self Service account, which they can use to pay tuition or residence fees.

According to Danny Albert, manager of the U of O’s Card Service, Ryerson and the University of Ottawa have different meal plan models.

He described Ryerson’s setup as “a declining balance meal plan,” where a total amount of money is preloaded onto a card, and the balance declines as the card is used.

He said that up until this year with the new cafeteria, the U of O used a declining balance system as well. And while students didn’t get the money back, they could sign a form and have it transferred to flex dollars, which can be used for different services around campus, including the bookstore and docUcentre—but not rent or tuition.

With the new cafeteria there are two options. The first is a pay-as-you-go plan, which is declining balance, and transfers any leftover funds to flex dollars automatically. The second is an unlimited access plan, meaning students can use the cafeteria as many times a day as
they want for either five or seven days a week. For this method, there is no balance at all, said Albert.

The university’s cafeteria has faced complaints over changes that limit access for students, including forcing students to leave and pay to re-enter at certain time periods and not allow them to bring backpacks inside, as well as their practice of mandatory meal plans for
students in certain residences.

In their Board of Administration meeting on March 25, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa passed a motion leftover from the General Assembly that requires them to “lobby” Food Services and the university to “eliminate barriers to entry at the new dining hall.”