Where Trinity Meal Plans Fall Short: A Discussion on the Necessity of Three Meals a Day for All Students

Ashley McDermott ’26

Staff Writer

Our days navigating campus are full of tasks and priorities. We have places to be, assignments to complete, and, most importantly, we have meals we need to eat. Everyday, each student at Trinity chooses where and where they will go to eat. Between three dining areas and a maximum of 19 meal swipes, it seems that the student body is widely accommodated by Trinity’s meal plans. However, there are numerous flaws and obstructions within the system, and students are experiencing the consequences of these shortcomings. 

How many meals do you eat in a day on campus? How often are the meals provided by Mather, or the Cave, or the Bistro? If you are on the Traditional 19 meal plan, you can only eat three meals a day for five days, then two meals for two days. The 15 flex allows only 15 meals a week (three full meals for five days), and the 15-5 flex also only allows 15 meals a week, where five swipes can be used in the Cave or the Bistro.

When looking at the numbers, the meal plan system on campus is not suited to provide a sustainable diet for young adults. Nutritionists recommend that people of all ages eat three meals a day. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adult men should consume 2,200-3,200 calories per day, while adult women should consume 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day. We need to take into account the distance students walk on campus, not to mention our student-athletes participating in numerous practices weekly—even daily. Also, they have games and meets that could prevent them from eating within any of the dining areas, which emphasizes how the opening times for the dining areas is also inaccessible. On top of this, Mather Hall typically lacks the right amount of seating to hold all of the students that come in for their meals. It is a stressful, loud, and crowded situation that has notoriously caused anxiety and dread within students who simply need to eat a meal.    

If you are someone that uses their meal swipes to buy bottled waters and other snacks and beverages from Mather, then you certainly do not have enough swipes for three meals a day. To supplement these missing meals, you would have to use your own money to buy something from the Cave, the Bistro, or an outside vendor, defeating the purpose of having a provided meal plan.

I recently made the choice to go to breakfast everyday before class. Monday through Friday, I could have three meals a day, and I felt the positive physical and mental impact of this decision. However, waking up on the weekends and having to push my breakfast to a brunch to combine two meals for my two swipes that day was draining. When you are on the routine of having three meals everyday, having to eliminate one of those meals causes a shift within your metabolic and dietary routine. After using all of my 19 meal swipes, I had no swipes left to buy myself a pre-packaged coffee or even a bottle of water from Mather. I lose a privilege solely because I attempted to eat a sufficient amount of meals each day.

To keep our bodies and minds fueled for our busy days, we need to eat three balanced meals each day. It is important for us to be responsible and to ensure we have food in our dorms in the event that we cannot make it to an on-campus dining facility. However, Trinity College should reevaluate their meal plans. To start, implementing more meal swipes into the meal plans would enable students to have three meals, seven days a week. It’s a small adjustment, but it is a move in the right direction for a healthier, more sustainable dining situation.

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