Let’s be real: if you move out of residence before getting that meal plan balance down to zero, it’s tempting to forget there was a time before home cooked meals and delivery pizza. But since only 50 per cent of student meal plan fees actually amount to useable OneCard funds ($2000 spent on a UVic meal plan gets you $1000 of non-refundable food service credit), you might as well make the most out of what’s left, even if it does mean being at the mercy of food services.
After all, UVic certainly doesn’t need your extra unused cash to plaster more ambiguous “UVic Edge” advertisements just outside the campus.
So, how exactly does one get their non-refundable dollar’s worth? Here’s some resourceful alternatives that’ll save you from having to eat Cadboro Commons Swedish meatballs into your fourth year.
Pay It Forward
Make UVic food play a positive role in systemic change for once by donating it to a local food bank. Have any friends who need help chipping away at their meal plan, too? Make it a weekly tradition to load up your backpacks and bring food to people in need. The UVSS Food Bank accepts donations on weekdays from 9:30 to 5:00, and there are plenty of off-campus options.
One Round, On You
Next time you’re at the Biblio, make some starving and overstressed students’ day by buying everyone a round of coffee, on you. This could potentially be carried out at any of the venues around campus, but as the epicenter of midterm anxiety, people of the Biblio present the deepest need for a restored will to go on. You might just be giving someone the renewed energy they need to ace their exams. For a less ambitious alternative, treat people in line behind you to a free meal, or stock up on baked goods and coffee for your friends before a shared class.
Grocery shopping on campus
Who says you can’t repurpose UVic food into something actually edible? If you think about it, Mystic Market is a lot like Whole Foods: overhyped, overpriced, and pseudo-environmentalist.
For beginners, I’d recommend starting small in the produce department. Both Cadboro Commons and Caps have baskets of fruit — including apples, bananas, avocados, and kiwis — next to the registers. Practically every food service location on campus has coolers full of soda and juice, although it might be smart to double-check any expiration dates. For intrepid shoppers looking for a challenge, order raw eggs and toast by the dozen from Basecamp.
Make Back Your Bucks
Eager to make some of your money back? Use your meal plan to buy up all of the tea bags, sugar, cups, and other barista essentials available on campus and launch your own competing coffee empire. Set up outside classes with an electric kettle and coffee maker and use the reduced overhead costs to lowball every other coffee place on campus. To really boost sales, you could establish a delivery system for people stuck in remote, coffeeless corners of campus, like the David Turpin Building.
If UVic offers you a buyout, just remember one thing: don’t take it in fucking meal card credit.