Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Student Government supports free, reduced-cost meal plans for off-campus students

Analise Pickerrell

Student Government passed legislation supporting free and reduced-cost meal plans for off-campus students on Feb. 12.

Business representative Jonathan Wilson, the author of the bill, said he initially wanted to advocate only for free meal plans for off-campus students but added reduced-cost options to make the legislation more inclusive.

“If we can get more people to apply for the program and get accepted because they don’t need (prices) all the way cut off (and) they need it halfway cut off, then I think that would be a cool way to include more people in this,” Wilson said.

The legislation outlines how dining halls are also a major social space in addition to a meal service and argues that off-campus students with financial needs should also have access to that space.

He said a friend he made in his freshman year inspired the bill. His friend didn’t have a meal plan and was consistently “left behind” when the group went to the dining hall. 

“One of the main reasons that I focused on (University Housing and Dining) this time around was giving students the opportunity to fraternize with people within the dining halls,” Wilson said. “A lot of the friends that I made were in the dining halls, and I remember how disappointed people who weren’t able to go into the dining halls were.”

Wilson said it’s too soon to have specific prices in mind for reduced-cost meal plans, but they would likely be decided on a case-by-case basis if UHD implements the program.

When asked for comment, a University Housing and Dining spokesperson said they “are not able to speculate on potential policy or program changes.”

The UTSG Food Security Agency will collaborate with SG to implement this initiative, said the agency’s Co-Director Dat Duong. While the agency was formed last semester, he said the agency is in a unique position to act as a “megaphone” for student initiatives that combat food insecurity, such as UT Outpost, West Campus Collective and Swipe Out Hunger.

“It’s still early in the game for us because now we just have the green light to actually spearhead this initiative,” Duong said. “I think now it’s just a matter of figuring out exactly how to approach it.”

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