I am currently living on my own in Philadelphia doing an internship (more coming soon on that!) and I have been grocery shopping, cooking, and eating out on my own budget. Looking back on the school year, I feel thankful for the security the meal plan gave me while I was stressing about other freshman-related issues. Throughout the year, I gradually got a hang of how to use the meal plan to its best capacity—and I’m sharing my accumulated knowledge here for you!
- Freshmen have two options for a meal plan, the Swat Plan and the Garnet Plan. I recommend the Garnet Plan! This is the better plan, and everyone I have talked to has agreed. The Swat Plan allows for unlimited meals, but the Garnet Plan has so many meals that you can go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner most days with no problem. The Garnet Plan has an extra one hundred and fifty Dining Dollars (the Ville restaurants, including the Co-op Grocery Store) and an extra one hundred and fifty Swat Points which can be used for Essie Mae’s, Crumb Cafe, the Sci Center Coffee Bar, and Kohlberg cafe.
- Essie Mae’s is a really important part of dining. It allows swipes after 8 p.m. (during the weekdays only) and has a lot of options for cooked food, Indian food, a salad bar that includes cooked and grilled vegetables (available only during lunch). There are a ton of snacks, gummy bear packs, granola bars, and chips. The main draw feature for a lot of people is the pineapple that they cut fresh every day and sell for three dollars. (It’s amazing).
- Hobbs Coffee Shop is also widely popular with students, and arguably the best off-campus Ville option for food. It is most popular on the weekends in the mornings, so the wait can be a bit lengthy if you’re particularly hungry. Sunday mornings is when Sharples doesn’t open with hot food, so Hobbs is an option if you’re an early Sunday morning riser. Also, they have amazing chai lattes.
- I’ll end with the most frequented Ville place where I spend most of my Dining Dollars on: Bamboo Bistro. As the most popular restaurant, it is consistently full on weekend nights. My particular favorite is their pineapple fried rice, which comes in a real pineapple. I got it on my second week of school during my freshman year, and it was exactly what I needed that night. I made a lot of good memories there with my friends, and it definitely has a special place in my heart.
The meal plan at Swarthmore definitely does not only include Sharples, and taking advantage of all the other meal sources on campus has its value. Explore and find your own favorite places on campus to eat!