Mount Vernon Campus dining plan allows for easy budgeting, students say

Media Credit: Lydia Embry | Photographer

Officials updated the Pelham Plan last week by converting the eight-swipe weekly limit to a 112-swipe balance for the rest of the semester.

Students living on the Mount Vernon Campus are getting the first glimpse at GW’s new “unlimited” dining system with meal swipe access this fall, but they said limited hours have impeded the transition during their first month on campus.

About 690 students living on the Vern this year are ​​required to partake in the Pelham Plan, which grants students 112 meal swipes to access all-you-can-eat meals at The Eatery at Pelham Commons – the Vern’s dining hall – in addition to about $1,620 in dining dollars for other GWorld vendors each semester. More than ten freshmen living on the Vern said limited hours at Pelham and a lack of restaurants near campus have made dining inaccessible for campus residents. 

Max Weiner, who lives in West Hall, said he enjoys the food served at Pelham, including options like soups, salads, burgers and pizza, but the dining hall’s limited hours make it unreliable. He said he wished students received more dining cash to purchase food in Foggy Bottom where he attends class, instead of additional swipes at Pelham. 

Pelham closes between its lunch and dinner hours – a system that Weiner said makes daytime meals more difficult, especially when his classes tend to overlap with lunch service at the dining hall. He said he often has to rely on the Vex’s transportation to Foggy Bottom to get food when Pelham is closed.

“The main problem with Pelham is it’s not open enough during the day, so I constantly just have to get food, scramble for food, on Foggy,” Weiner said.

The Eatery is open for lunch between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and for dinner between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The dining hall is open between 7:30 and 11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and is closed on Sundays, according to the GW Dining website.

The Eatery includes pizza, grill and homestyle food counters, a salad and sandwich bar and a “chef-attended” cooking station, according to the website.

Officials updated the Pelham Plan last week, converting the weekly limit of eight swipes to a 112-swipe balance for the rest of the semester, according to an Instagram post from GW Dining. The University also announced extended hours starting Sept. 20 to offer students extra flexibility, adding a breakfast option from 8:00 to 10:30 a.m.

Ken Baeza, who lives in Hensley Hall, said the Pelham Plan is affordable – costing $8 for lunch, $10 for dinner and $12 for brunch – and makes budgeting easier and more convenient for students who spend most of their time on the Vern.

“The dining plan is amazing,” Baeza said. “I think it’s much easier to survive if you’re on a budget with Vern’s dining plan than Foggy’s.”

Liz Paul, an organizational sciences major, said although she wishes The Eatery offered more fresh produce, she enjoys the Pelham Plan and is excited about the University’s expansion of available meal swipes. She said before the plan was updated, she would miss out on cashing in each of her eight weekly meal swipes while purchasing meals on Foggy Bottom.

“I like the Pelham Plan for the most part, especially with the revisions that they made starting next week – that’s really helpful,” she said. “I think my biggest concern originally was that it’s hard to use eight meals within one week when I’m usually on Foggy during lunch. And so that was difficult, but I think their new plan is really helpful.” 

She said the added breakfast hours will also broaden her dining options, after Higher Grounds Cafe served as the Vern’s only other breakfast option. She said she can only visit the Higher Grounds Cafe in Ames Hall three times a week, as students are only allotted three swipes a week at Higher Grounds Cafe or Pelham Late Night. 

“I’m also glad that they’re adding breakfast so that eating here at Ames isn’t my only option because I can only do that three times a week,” Paul said.

Jasmine Lizano, a freshman majoring in political science, said she enjoys the Pelham Commons dining plan because she can rely on an all-you-can-eat dinner throughout the week. She said she uses all of her dining swipes each week, even when she occasionally purchases lunch on Foggy Bottom.

“​​I actually like the Vern’s dining plan just because it gives us the flexibility of being able to rely on dinner,” she said.

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