ROGERS PARK — Loyola University freshman and sophomores will be required to pay hundreds of dollars more for meal plans next year — and they aren't happy about it.
Some are so upset they plan to hold a rally Sunday to protest.
It's "really expensive for next year," said freshman Zac Angel, who will be a sophomore in the fall. "The meal plan costs more than what my mom makes in a month."
Angel's cheapest option next year is to pay $1,745 for 10 meals a week during the 16-week semester. He had hoped to be able to take advantage of a much cheaper plan that this year allowed sophomores and upperclassmen to pay $680 a semester on points that could be used on campus to buy meals, coffee or snacks.
On top of Loyola's 2.5 percent tuition hike, "it’s going to make it tougher on top of books, tuition increases and having to pay for room and board," he said. "It doesn’t make it easier."
Incoming freshman, who are required to live on campus and buy a meal plan, face the biggest hike over this year's costs.
In years past, freshmen, could purchase 10 meals a week for $1,680 for the semester. But beginning this fall, freshmen will be forced to purchase an "unlimited" meal plan for at least $2,275 a semester, which is 35 percent more than the 10-meal plan.
Rob Kelly, vice president for student development at the school, said the university hadn't raised rates for at least four years.
He said the school has seen an influx of students and wanted to provide more dining choices, like the unlimited plans which allow students to swipe a card as often as they want at dining halls.
Next year, a new food court and a new cafe will open on the lakeshore campus.
"We have a lot more dining options," said Kelly. "And the students have asked for these, so we’ve responded in providing a greater variety of food and also [a greater] quality of food."
Aramark, which provides food at universities and stadiums around the world, operates the food service for Loyola.
Angel says the money doesn't match the quality of food served.
"Spending that much on food like that — it’s absurd," said the 18-year-old, who had wanted to avoid the dining halls and buy most of his food from the grocery store to save money next year before the changes were announced.
Freshman Lilly Osborne, a political science major, also isn't a fan of the food.
"I think it's pretty bad. I’m a vegetarian and I literally eat grilled cheese every day — if not two times a day. Most of my friends gained 15 pounds, and I’ve lost 20 since I’ve gone to Loyola."
Osborne and Angel plan to attend the rally at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Willye B. White field house, 1610 W. Howard St., organized by Rogers Park activist groups Northside POWER and Loyola Organized in Action.
Amanda Weaver, a Loyola graduate student who organizes for the university group, said she also set up a day when parents could call-in to the university to complain about the hike.
She said 1,200 students signed a petition to protest the meal plan changes.
"I feel very lucky," said Osborne, who is not required to buy a pricey plan. " ... It's also a big problem."