Off Campus Meal Plan – Is It Worth It?
A meal plan minus the dining hall. That’s how the Off Campus Meal Plan (OCMP) bills itself — a flexible meal plan that allows students to eat at various restaurants close to campus.
OCMP is available at 31 college campuses throughout the country, including the University of Delaware. While OCMP is an independent company not affiliated with any school in particular, the university lists it on its own English Language Institute website as an option for students who live off-campus.
“OCMP does not have a contract with the University of Delaware,” David Diana, CEO and director of operations of OCMP, stated in an email. “We work independently with the restaurants and markets. We do however work with Udel from time to time in providing meals for special events and groups through individual departments.”
There are 74 restaurants and eateries that accept the OCMP, including Iron Hill, Snap Pizza and Santa Fe. Seven of the restaurants on the list are permanently closed.
The process is relatively simple. Once you purchase a meal plan, your card can be used to buy meals at any OCMP affiliated restaurant. Every “meal” that OCMP provides is equivalent to $10 worth of food. Card holders may use increments of a meal. For example, 59 percent of a meal would translate to $5.91 and 1.33 meals would translate to $13.28.
The meal plans are broken down by number of meals per week. Unused meals transfer over week to week, but not semester to semester. The largest plan you can purchase is 21 meals per week for a price of $3,079.51. This equates to 294 meals per semester, or $2,940 worth of food.
For this specific plan, the OCMP company makes $139, the difference between the amount available to spend and the purchase.
This raises the question as to why students would opt for the OCMP rather than simply use a debit card.
Chris Giuliano, a senior who studies fine arts, has had an OCMP card for the past two years.
“You can add meals whenever you need and it’s just super convenient and an easier way to eat on Main Street instead of always having to spend money,” he said.
Bari Sandler, a senior criminal justice major, had the OCMP card as a junior.
“Even though it doesn’t technically save any money, I got it to separate my food expenses from other expenses so that it wouldn’t come out of my allowance for the month,” Sandler stated in an email. “Plus, there’s so many restaurants around campus that take it.”
While some people may not see the attraction to the OCMP program, there are reasons that their customers view it as a good investment.