MealPal offers affordable lunch options for Baruch students

Ayse Kelce | The Ticker  The MealPal app connects its users with many restaurants in New York City that offer cheap lunch and dinner plans, giving students several options.

Ayse Kelce | The Ticker

The MealPal app connects its users with many restaurants in New York City that offer cheap lunch and dinner plans, giving students several options.

Finding affordable options for lunch is a struggle at Baruch College, which does not have a cafeteria or offer meal plans. 

While some students bring their own lunch, most students prefer the fastest and cheapest options that are closest to Baruch.

MealPal is an app that essentially works like a meal plan that allows its users to choose their meals from various restaurants. 

The “kitchen” is open between 5 p.m. and 10:30 a.m., meaning that users have the afternoon the day before and the morning of order their meals. 

Most restaurants allow users to pick up meals starting at 11:45 a.m. or noon. 

Customers are asked to scan their code from the MealPal app in order to pick up their meal. The prices vary according to the number of meals you have in
your plan — the options are 12 or 20. 

Discounts constantly change based on different marketing strategies or timed offers— for instance, if users sign up with their emails for the first time you usually get a 40 percent off.

 However if you do not accept that offer, you might get a 50 percent off in a few weeks, the first month prices are less than $4. 

According to a survey conducted among Baruch students by The Ticker, 44.3 percent of the 97 Baruch students surveyed spend more than $10 on lunch when they are at school. 

Meanwhile, 32 percent stated that they spend around $5 to $7, and only 6.2 percent said that the spend less than $5. 

The rest of the students chose the option that said they bring
their own lunch.

MealPal’s first month trial generally seems to be beneficial for most Baruch students. However, when it comes to paying the actual MealPal price after a month, it might not be the ideal choice for many students.

MealPal’s regular price rises to $6.99 per meal for six meals, $6.39 for 12 meals and $5.99 for 20 meals, after the trial month.

Considering most food carts around Baruch College have meals around $5, most students question if is it worth signing up for MealPal.

So what does MealPal has to offer for the price?

“During exams, MealPal is a very beneficial option. I am dorming, so I use it for both lunch and dinner. However, there are not many restaurants to choose from around the dorms,” said Darpan Gajra, freshman.

MealPal does sound like a very convenient option for students; however, if one has dietary restrictions, the MealPal experience might be very different. 

MealPal does have a considerable amount of vegetarian meals, but it is not always easy to find a desirable meal nearby if users are looking for vegan, kosher or gluten free options.

The app asks for preferences right after sign up. However, even if users choose that they do not like cilantro, for example, it still shows meal options that contain cilantro. It is then advisable to check the ingredients for every meal you order. 

“I would prefer if it had more options. I don't eat beef, and many options have beef. I feel like I am choosing the same meals again and again,” Gajra said. 

Most options are the same during the week, and some restaurants change the meal they offer in different periods. Especially if you are looking for a meal within walking distance to Baruch, you might not be satisfied with the variety of the options. 

“I am generally satisfied with MealPal. I had bad experiences too, but after some time, I learned which restaurants are better to choose from,” Gajra added.

Overall, MealPal might not be the ideal option for students with dietary restrictions. Also, there are cheaper options around Baruch than MealPal’s regular subscription. 

However, considering the average spending of Baruch students for lunch, the first month offer is worth trying, especially during finals week.