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.
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.”