Students in Greek homes reveal the reality of dining

Greek life is one of the most prominent organizations at Lehigh. From Fall 2022, 21.7% of Lehigh students were part of a Greek organization. Of these 1,230 Greek students, 600 lived in an apartment building.

According to the Office of Student EngagementMeals are not provided to students of any class on Saturdays. In addition, 15 of the 18 recognized chapters do not serve lunch on Sundays and 10 of the 18 chapters do not serve dinner on Fridays.

Each on-campus facility has the opportunity to offer an in-house meal plan where designated chefs provide food to each house operated directly by the organizations, said Sarah Runyon, associate dean and director of student engagement.

Students living in classroom facilities participate in these meal plans, all of which do not provide students with meals on weekends, she said.

While formal chef-prepared meals in each house are limited to weekends, each house — along with Chi Psi, which does not offer a boarding meal plan — provides students with snacks, drinks, and leftovers at all times.

Alison Konock, 26, is the hostess at her club, which means she’s the main point of contact between the head chef at the house and the girls at the club.

Club members go out on weekends to have dinner, deliver food or take advantage of leftovers to make their own meals, she said. Missing meals can be a financial burden, she said, and she estimates she spends about $20 a week on food.

“I know a lot of people have their meal plans paid for by their parents through tuition and aid, and a lot of times getting your food through restaurants means they’re paying for themselves,” Konock said. “I think because of that people feel less like they have to go out and buy food.”

Molly Smith, 26, a member of another sorority, said about half of the members who live at the house eat leftovers.

“About 25% (of internal members) use DoorDash, which is not cost effective at all, and then the other members will pick things up and manage on their own,” Smith said.

She said she usually spends a lot of money on meals because food delivery orders get expensive with additional fees.

Smith said having food delivered for each of the four unserved meals adds up, so she tries to balance eating leftovers with ordering food.

“Ultimately, since we are college students who already pay so much to be part of the class, having to pay more for food on weekends is inconvenient,” Smith said.

Members tend to spend much more time in class on weekends, she said, and it’s difficult not to provide meals.

On weekdays, people are usually off campus attending classes, so it’s easier to get food from on-campus dining places, she said.

Links to cost of membership pages are provided to students during recruitment, showing all meal plans, cost and when food will be provided for each class, Runyon said.

“Before we join, we know the nutritional situation, so I think it’s something everyone accepts once they decide they’re going to live at home,” Konuk said.

Smith said she felt the meal plan position was not fully disclosed and that discussions focused mainly on how good the meal plans were, especially compared to those available through Lehigh Dining.

“The food is much better quality, it’s very healthy, and we’ve only talked about that aspect of it,” Smith said. “I never knew about (the lack of meals on weekends). It’s not like people lied to us about it, we barely talked about it.

Although there are no meals on the weekend, Konuk said she likes her meal plan.

“Even though the quantity is less, it is better quality and healthier, and (the chef) takes our input and listens to what we want,” Konuk said.

For those who don’t feel their Greek organization provides enough food, there are smaller college plans to purchase, Runyon said.

She also said there are resources available for Greek life students who would likely struggle with the cost of paying for meals.

“People experiencing food insecurity can use the resources available through the Health and Wellness Center,” Runyon said. “We are also happy to talk with students about how best to enable them to access the food they are looking for or the food they need.”

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