To phrase it kindly, I am frugal. In food-related matters alone, I have always tried to minimize waste. I was raised to clean my plate and learned to find the best deal in grocery store fliers before I was even old enough to drive to the store on my own. Much to my chagrin, my food-related frugality is amplified here at college. I’ll admit it – I am bothered every time I close the Common Ground Caf and have to throw out all of the leftover fruit and unused coffee. In light of all of this, one can imagine how incensed I am over the 130 club meals that expired from my dining plan last semester. Multiply that number by the approximate seven dollars that I paid for them, and that’s the money I could be using to pay for books rather than digging into my savings account.
Lost money aside, however – I still find numerous drawbacks to being forced into such an enormous dining plan. For one thing, it makes me feel guilty. No, I don’t feel guilty for having more food at my disposal in one semester than a kid in a third world country probably sees in two years – although I probably should. Rather, I feel guilty when I use a club meal for which I paid $7 to buy 80 cents worth of tea at Hillside just to “get rid of it.” This guilt, in turn, makes me angry. Why should I have to feel as if I am “getting rid” of club meals when I’m the one who paid for them?
Another drawback to such a huge plan is the fact that it discourages me from eating off campus. While it may be comforting to know that I will never go hungry on campus, one must consider all the work that was put into developing the Rochester Every Day program. There were quite a few eateries on that list of college-friendly businesses that I was interested in trying until I discovered that if I did so, more of my club meals – and, this semester, declining dollars – would go to waste. Needless to say, I will not be frequenting any RED eateries in the next four months.
I understand that dining plans are orchestrated for students’ convenience, and rest assured, I appreciate that convenience. By no means do I desire to go hungry because I cannot find a place to eat nearby or don’t have enough cash to pay for the food provided.
However, when I receive a meal plan that offers me more food than I can possibly hope to consume, I don’t understand why the college bothered furnishing my dormitory hall with a fully functioning kitchen.
Frankly, this facility is a tease, because while I love to cook, I simply cannot bring back groceries from Wegman’s knowing that my stir-fry recipe and brownie ingredients will end up wasting another fifteen club meals.
Hopefully, if enough students cause a ruckus, the higher authorities will sit up and take notice. This way, even if there is no hope left for my class, next year’s freshmen will have a shot at receiving a more reasonable dining plan. Meanwhile, I’ll head back to Danforth and try not to have another 130 club meals leftover at the end of this semester.
Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.