A student enters Snelling Dining Commons on the University of Georgia’s campus on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

University of Georgia Dining Services will begin offering students customizable dining plans in partnership with the Student Government Association for the 2021-2022 school year. The announcement comes as the university prepares to return to a normal dining experience. 

Students can customize a dining plan using an online meal plan builder based on their housing status, year and how often they plan to eat in the dining commons and at retail dining locations. Students can then customize the number of meal blocks and Paw Points received. 

“Students choose exactly how many swipes they need, how many Paw Points they need, and [it's] also within their price range,” said Bryson Henriott, the SGA deputy chief of staff. 

Henriott, a rising junior public relations and political science major, said he piloted the idea upon realizing that he could not purchase a Commuter meal plan while living on campus even though he did not plan to use the dining commons as often. 

“It really hit me that probably a lot of students were in this situation. They just wanted more flexibility and affordability when it came to purchasing a meal plan, especially for those students who were not first years living on campus,” Henriott said. 

Henriott said he collaborated with UGA Dining Services and launched a pilot 180 meal block plan during the 2020-2021 academic year to test the customizable plan’s performance. Upon the pilot’s success among students, UGA Dining Services added the pilot plan as a new plan and expanded its features to existing dining plans. 

The plans are offered as customizable 5-day or 7-day All-Access plans, Commuter plans and Upper-Level Student plans.

5-day and 7-day All-Access meal plans are available to all students and provide unlimited access to dining commons. Now, students can choose to receive between 0-250 Paw Points per semester rather than having to choose an option with Paw Points upon the initial purchase.  

The Commuter Block plan is available for students who live off-campus and commute. The plan allows students to choose between 65-125 blocks and 200-650 Paw Points.

The Upper-Level Student meal plan is available for upper-level students living on or off campus. Students that select this plan are able to choose between 140-180 blocks and 0-300 Paw Points per semester. 

“[The customizable meal plan] just allows for some extra flexibility and versatility when it comes to choosing a meal plan that's going to best suit their interests and their needs all within their price range,” Henriott said. 

Henriott hopes that the added customization will allow more students to purchase meal plans as they go on sale for the upcoming academic year. 

“I think so often students find problems, but students don't want to solve the problems,” Henriott said. “It's really great to be able to just see the problem, identify it, but then also bring a solution under fruition.”