Changes to Brandeis’ dining services and meal plans

More than three years ago, Brandeis administration and students, working closely with a consultant, began a review of campus dining services. They assessed what services were being provided, what was desired and what might be the best model for Brandeis.

The research suggested that facilities needed to be upgraded and venues expanded, but it also meant that Brandeis would need to adopt the dining services model used by nearly all of its peer institutions, where all students who live in campus housing are required to be part of the meal plan. Most of those models maintain a roughly comparable overall residential cost (room and board). In those models, the more spacious apartment housing with greater amenities for juniors and seniors cost more, and the meal plans at those levels are brought into a cost that maintains a comparable overall charge to the less expensive first and second year rooms with the larger meal plans.

The collaborative and unanimous decision to upgrade dining services resulted in some significant changes. Sodexo was selected as the new provider, and dining services were expanded to a variety of venues, including bringing Starbucks into the library, a café in the science center, and a Dunkin' Donuts to lower campus. This past summer, Usdan received a massive remodeling, offering a new kosher deli, sushi bar, and Currito, along with a fully renovated all-you-can-eat dining facility. This coming summer, Einstein Bros. Bagels will expand to a full-service operation and the Sherman Dining Hall will be full renovated and expanded. Hours and meal plan use also have been expanded across campus, and a partnership with Russo’s Market has brought a great array of fresh fruits and other amenities to campus stores and dining halls.

Brandeis continues to work closely with the campus dining committee on the dining program. The changes to next year’s meal plans reflect students’ desire for more points. The program also reflects student input with a new meal exchange at several venues, in response to student requests for more ways to use meal “swipes.”

The student dining committee focused significant attention on the apartment style plans. While all meal plan options are open to students in apartments, juniors and seniors in apartments can choose to access the less expensive plan options. At the request of the students, the plan was designed in blocks for the full semester, providing students maximize flexibility regarding when they make use of their meals. Students also asked for a plan below this year’s apartment plan cost of $2,000/semester. Although this risks creating a less cost efficient plan for the students, Brandeis will provide a plan that is priced at $1,875/semester.

While increased costs are never welcome and no dining program on any campus is perfect for everyone, student leadership and community input helped shape the long-term model for Brandeis dining services, just as input continues to shape the details of that implementation today. The changes underway reflect decisions made in the best interests of campus community toward offering the diverse dining opportunities requested by the students, and improvements that will help make Brandeis dining among the best in the country.


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