I'm pretty sure when you're in first year the res meal plans include a basic portion, and a freedom portion. Flex starts out with $0 according to: http://hospitality.mcmaster. ca/mea...2011-2012.html
(Not from this year but should give you a basic idea of how it works). If you go to that link you will see that all meal plans have the same amount of money in the "BASIC" account but differ in the "FREEDOM".
"Q: What is the difference between the BASIC and FLEX portion of my meal plan? A: The BASIC
account represents the mandatory, non-refundable, non-transferable, and non-cumulative
portion of all residence meal plans. It is non-taxable account saving you up to 13% and can be used for the food purchases on campus only. The FLEX
account is an optional account that allows you to continue non-taxable purchases of food on campus once the Basic account is exhausted. The FREEDOM account gives you ability to purchase non-food items on campus and to dine at the participating Off-Campus vendors. All purchases made from the FREEDOM account will be subject to the appropriate taxes. At any time during the academic year, you can deposit into the FLEX and/or FREEDOM account or transfer monies between your FLEX and FREEDOM accounts. Unused funds in the FLEX and FREEDOM accounts will be automatically carried over to the next term or can be refunded to you, so there’s no risk involved!"