As college students, finding good and affordable meals is extremely important, especially after having to regularly experience our fair share of Ramen noodles and Easy Mac cups. The food on campus generally satisfies the requirement for a good meal, but after months of eating the same food, it becomes unexciting. The Flex Dollar program heavily benefits students by providing them with the option of eating fast food or stocking up on groceries from campus P.O.D markets, but the options provided are still considered limited compared to the many food options available in the greater Starkville area. The Flex Dollar program's only issue regards the lack of variety available. The addition of off-campus locations to Mississippi State University's Flex Dollar program would benefit the local businesses of Starkville while also growing students' options and our community.

Ben Walker of Liberty University in Virginia explains how his community benefitted once his university allowed its programs to extend across local restaurants. He stated that ever since the partnership, "local merchants can now expect that profit to rise even higher in the next year." The food created at these local businesses is fresh, carefully prepared and healthier than your average fast-food meal. The implementation of this system will benefit students to consume carefully crafted food and will give them a variety of healthier options not available previously.

The University of Arkansas states that students of all situations and years have benefited from their extension of meal plans off-campus. Arkansas's off-campus meal plan demonstrated that students who reside off-campus or even work at an off-campus location have easy access to food near them without having to make the trip to campus or being limited to the dining halls' choices. This extension will influence upperclassmen students to continue their meal plans throughout their college career instead of abandoning the plan after freshman year. MSU can only benefit from this extension.

The University of Alabama (UA) has their own off-campus dining program which allows students to go beyond buying meals. With UA's "Bama Cash," students can use their meal plan to pay for postage services, laundry, beauty salon trips, gas station purchases and medical care services. They can access commodities beyond food and have a direct line of financial support through the university which allows them to satisfy other basic needs. UA provides a keen example of using the community as a resource to not only help fund the school, but to also grow different businesses of all categories in the community.

While Flex Dollars are a great resource that continue to provide students with a few nutritious ventures, the program has the potential to grow both the university and the beautiful community surrounding it.

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