My resident assistant friends always complain about the RA food plan they’re enrolled in. At $1550 in food points for West Campus RA’s, it certainly doesn’t seem like a lot of money to feed someone for the semester. I mean, I get $2,904.65 food points on Plan B.  To better understand their struggle, I decided to try to live on the RA food plan for a week. I asked my parents to send me $1550, and got ready for my seven-day challenge.

On day 1, I went to ABP for brunch. Knowing I should be conservative with my funds, I just got a bagel with cream cheese for $3. I was pretty hungry again around 4:00, but waited until dinner time so I wouldn’t have to get anything later. I got some pasta from Il Forno for dinner, and a cup too, which came out to $6.25. That night, I checked my spendings. Somehow, I had only spent $9.25 of the 1550 food points, leaving me with 1540.75 food points. It felt like I must be doing something wrong.

The next day, I got three full meals which were around $10 each. With 5 days to go, I still had 1510.75 food points left. At that point, I realized I was on to something.

Over the next few days, I paid for all my friends’ food at every meal I went to. I loaded up on snacks from the vending machines, and wasn’t afraid to ask for extra pumps of caramel in my coffee at Bella Union. On day 7, I decided to sample all the food available during the West Union lunch rush around 1:00, and bought an entrée from each station. I treated myself to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from the Lobby Shop after, and charged it to food. Still, I had about 800 food points left. After a whole week, I hadn’t even spent half of the money the RA food plan allotted me.

In the end, I realized that the RA food plan is actually pretty generous –much more so than my measly Plan B. Even though a lot of RA’s complain about it, there are a lot of ways to make their plan last longer. RA’s worried about their spending should try limiting their meals to just 10 or so a day, and not eating all their meals at the overpriced Commons.

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