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Is Commons worth mandatory meal plans?

The Commons Dining Hall serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and more to the student population at Salisbury University. I tried every type of cuisine (under my meal plan) to find out whether the food options were worth what the meal plans cost.

Salisbury University Dining Services offers five different meal plans to accommodate student needs. Each plan varies in amount of allowed visits to the dining hall, dining dollars allotted for satellite eatery locations and guest passes, according to the overall cost.

As a first-semester student, I opted for the 200 block meal plan: the cheaper of the two required plans. This meal plan gave me access to the Commons dining hall 200 times, plus a $400 dining budget and two guest passes for $2,650.

I calculated the price of each visit to Commons to cost around $11 for my plan. The price per visit increases as the meal plans decrease in dining hall visit frequency.

I walk across campus to cash in a meal, swiping my Gull Card at the cashier's stand before I arrive at the heart of the dining hall, the Marketplace, pulled in every direction by the smells of fried food, sweet treats and pizza .

With so many meals to choose from, I never know what to get. I take a lap around the serving stations to find out what they have.

The server plates my meal when I'm ready to order, before I am set free to pile on whatever I choose.

My first stop was Simply Fine, where students can choose from a variety of vegetarian dishes. The buffalo vegetarian chicken wrap special piqued my interest: a creamy blue cheese dressing perfectly complementing the spice from the buffalo chicken, full of flavor in every bite. Another Simply Fine favorite of mine is the fresh-cooked fish.

Making my rounds, I arrive at Grillers, where students float into a cheeseburger paradise of American cuisine every day of the week. After trying several greasy, fried foods including mozzarella sticks, macaroni and cheese bites and fries, I concluded Grillers just serves glorified frozen food.

Pizza and pasta are the next quick and easy options. With slices of pizza ready to go and their specials alongside the day-to-day choices make these stations a reliable option for students on the go.

The next two stations dish out made-to-order international cuisine from opposite sides of the globe. Sabrosa offers a taco bar with Mexican meats and toppings while Wok has stir-fry and sushi bowls.

Between the two, Wok is my clear favorite: with an established ordering system through Grub Hub tablets to manage the long lines and a deli offering more made-to-order options.

Over at the Roastery, daily specials are always diverse a nutritious. Roastery is one of the only places that manage to make cooked vegetables look unappetizing.

I stopy by SU’gars at the end of every dining hall trip because if Commons can do anything right, it’s dessert.

From chewy cookies to tasty cheesecakes, they make delicious, sweet treats that are worth the swipes.

The best food choices can be found outside the Marketplace, at the Bistro, despite limited hours of operation, which features fresh sides, "make-your-own" bars and even more delicious desserts. The topping options available at the wacky macaroni and cheese bar are a great upgrade from microwave meals in my dorm.

All in all, the Commons Dining Hall is a great campus option for students on the go.



Staff Writer

Featured image courtesy of Benjamin Lausch

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