While most schools have contracted with Marriott or fast-food companies for their dining needs, Brown prides itself on maintaining a University-run food service. Why exactly this is a source of pride is another question entirely. The main dining halls—the Ratty and the V-Dub—serve what can only be described as average food. Chances are, you won’t return home for the holidays demanding your mom cook more like Brown Food Services (BFS). A lack of variety and the inability to use credits in real restaurants close to campus can be frustrating. The few cafés and restaurants run by the University are equally frustrating because they are more expensive than independent cafés and diners on Thayer and Wickenden Street. The Brown meal plan feels more like a middle school lunch program than a welcomed dining experience.
Year after year, the Ratty is the butt of new and old jokes, but as demonstrated by the Ratty Recipe Repository, many Brown students embrace the standard cafeteria-style eating. Besides, the meal plan provides much more than hot food every day. The meal plan is a state of mind. From your first week on meal plan, you will undoubtedly enjoy meals with friends, meet lots of new people, and sing karaoke with your fellow Brunonians at the V-Dub. Good or bad, surviving meal plan freshman year is a defining experience and undoubtedly a right of passage. In time, however, you’ll find the right balance of splurging for off-campus meals and eating creatively at the dining halls. Students who are off the meal plan might enjoy better food, but it is costly and time-consuming to fend for yourself.