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Cost of meal plans increases, new meal plan auto-enrollment for incoming students

Alexandria Anderson

Students returning to campus this fall should expect to see the cost of meal plans increased.

The seven meal plans offered for the 2023-2024 year each cost more, ranging from $43 to $296, with the exception of the new flex $500 plan. 

A meal plan is required for all first-year students living on campus. All full-time undergraduate students who do not select a traditional meal plan are required to have the flex $325 plan, but can now upgrade to the flex $500 meal plan. All meal plan costs are per semester.

Jace Lux, WKU media spokesperson, stated via email that cost increases are a result of food costs nationwide and the dining options offered to campus. He also stated meal plans are continuously evaluated and adjusted.

“The university is proud to offer high quality, high value dining options for the campus community,” Lux stated. “Increased food costs nationwide have led to adjustments to the price of student meal plans. WKU and Aramark continuously evaluate meal plan options and restaurant and food choices to ensure we are meeting the needs of our Hilltopper family.”

Compared to last year, two meal plans were added and five were removed. The VIP all-access and all-access meal plans replaced the all-access plus, weekly 21 and block 240 meal plans.

Students now have access to the VIP all-access, all-access, weekly 14, weekly 10, block 80 and block 50 meal plans. The weekly 12 and block 65 plans from previous years were removed.

The all-access plans provide unlimited access to Fresh Food Company and Hilltopper hub, $200 or $350 meal plan dollars and 10 value meals. The weekly plans have a specific number of meals that refresh every week, and the block plans provide a certain number of meals per semester.

A graph indicating meal plan costs from 2021-2022 to 2023-2024. Meal plans listed are from the 2023-2024 year, with the exception of the all-access plus plan. Four plans removed from this year are not included in the data.

The required flex $325 meal plan is part of the Aramark and WKU 20-year contract, which began in 2017. The fee for students opting out of a meal plan was $75 in 2018, and, as the contract states, has risen incrementally, and now sits at $325. In fall 2026, the final cost will be $350 a semester.

“Many students have asked if they could add more Flex to the Flex 325 account,” Nena Shomler, Aramark director of marketing, stated about the flex $500 plan via email. “Since this isn’t an option, we wanted to give those students an opportunity to upgrade to a Flex plan that did have more dollars associated with it.”

The automatic enrollment meal plan for first-year students living on-campus has also changed. Beginning this fall, these students will be auto-enrolled in the all-access meal plan, the most expensive and inclusive option. In previous years, students were auto-enrolled in the weekly 10 meal plan, the most inexpensive on-campus option.

“The process for auto-enrolling students is the same as previous years, however the auto-enroll option for first-year students did change,” Shomler stated.

To adjust their meal plan, students must manually select the desired plan on TopNet before August 17.

Editor-in-chief Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected].

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