The new Collegetown meal plan - set to launch next fall- will include several popular restaurants.

Michael Li / Assistant Photography Editor

The new Collegetown meal plan - set to launch next fall- will include several popular restaurants.

May 9, 2017

Collegetown Meal Plan to Launch in Fall

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An off-campus dining option for Cornell students — run by the company Elevate and independent from Cornell Dining — will launch this fall as an alternative to the traditional dining hall experience.

Elevate was founded by two University of Virginia students who aimed to find different ways to provide students with an affordable and convenient dining option. It has since expanded to Georgetown, University of Michigan, Florida State and now, Cornell.

Collegetown Eateries on May 8, 2017 ( Michael Wenye Li/ Sun Assistant Photography Editor)

Once it launches here in the fall, participating students can order meals from various Collegetown and Ithaca restaurants through the Elevate web app. Participating restaurants range from Collegetown Pizza to Oishii Bowl. Meals will cost $10.30 through the company’s standard meal plan rate.

The new meal plan is targeted toward juniors and seniors who live in or nearby to Collegetown, since freshmen and upperclassmen living on West are required to be on a Cornell meal plan, according to Shen Lee ’20, one of the Cornell campus managers of Elevate.

“Students would benefit from having to pay less for their meal plans, and local restaurants would benefit by receiving business from students that would otherwise eat at dining halls,” said Jacky Tung ’19, another of Elevate’s campus managers. “It’s a win-win situation for both parties.”

Elevate plans to offer three different meal plans, all of which will allow students to rollover unused meals to the next semester. The company says its most popular plan, the 75 meals option, costs $779 per semester and is considerably cheaper than the official meal plans offered by Cornell, where the least expensive traditional meal plan costs $2,316  per semester.

“It’s definitely better bang for your buck compared to food you buy on campus,” said Wendy Yu ’19, another campus manager of Elevate. “I would say a lot of times it’s better quality and variety as well. It’s a change of what you usually get on campus.”

The Cornell campus managers expect a turnout similar to the one seen at UVA, which attracted over 500 users in just 2 months. Other participating restaurants in the new plan include Calios, Plum Tree, Apollo, De Tasty Hot Pot, Hai Hong Restaurant, Oasis Hallal Grill, and Café Pacific. Popular restaurants such as Collegetown Bagels and Waffle Frolic are still in the negotiating phase.

Some students who live in Collegetown said they look forward to the introduction of this plan, in particular because of its cheaper price compared to Cornell meal plans.

“I would definitely try it out a semester because I think it would save a lot of money,” said Cathy Xie ’20, who plans to live in Collegetown next year. “I’m also always in a rush so having food available through a click of a button is very convenient.”

“Many people resonate with the fact that Cornell dining meal plans are overpriced,” Tung said. “They are excited for an alternative that is more economical and of higher quality.”

  • badbitch

    I literally see no point in this at all. It’s cheaper to just buy the food yourself when you want it from these various, relatively cheap Collegetown restaurants. A complete waste of money, and overall a dumb idea that I can’t believe has made it this far.

    • Shen Lee

      It’s not a waste of money – in fact, Elevate is SAVING you money. On our meal plan, you pay on average $10.30 a meal, but the value of the meal you get can go up to $12, so you would be paying that much for the same meal if you weren’t on the meal plan. Most meals include an appetizer, main and drink, so we’re really trying to provide students with value and convenience, not cheat them out of their money. If you have any other inquiries about Elevate’s meal plan, feel free to email me at!

      • mrpoopybutthole

        How will this work. Its been pretty vaguely described thus far. So one meal consists of more than a food item? Do you still use a menu?

        • Shen Lee

          So students would purchase a meal plan (e.g. 45 meals) and they can redeem them at any of the restaurants on our meal plan (meals do not ever expire!). There is a menu for each restaurant that you can view here: You choose from a wide variety of items or combination of items (e.g. choose an appetizer, a main and a drink) from the restaurant’s menu for each meal. You order to eat in the restaurants or to pick up from the restaurant through our Elevate app, which tracks how many meals you’ve used and have left. Hope that clears things up a bit! Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂 Am always happy to answer them.

          • Alices

            How large is the portions?

          • Shen Lee

            Hi Alice, the portions would be the same as what you would get at the restaurant (their normal portions).

  • NotGood

    I’m definitely not going to be participating in this meal plan until more healthy choices are offered. Everything on the menu right now is high calorie, high sodium, and definitely not something that students should be eating every day for a meal. This might work in a town like Charlottesville (where UVA is) because there’s many healthy choices likes salads, soups, and actual non fried meals, but Collegetown doesn’t have enough healthy options where a meal plan like this will ever be successful.

    • Shen Lee

      Hi there! I totally understand your concerns about healthy options. While I agree a lot of the items from some of these restaurants are unhealthy, there are also healthy options like salads and subs from Collegetown Pizza or Chicken Salad with Tofu from Cafe Pacific. We are continually working to add more restaurants to provide students with a greater variety of options to choose from and are currently in talks with restaurants like Aladdin’s and Collegetown Bagels (CTB) so stay tuned for more restaurants coming on board! If you have any suggestions of any restaurants/cafes you’d like to see on our meal plan, feel free to email me at Also feel free to look at our restaurant’s menus and redeem your FREE MEAL discount at!