The Corner Store is now a late-night option for students who have a declining balance dining meal plan ? and it has seen greatly increased traffic as a result.

The change now allows students to use declining balance dollars to purchase non-taxable items.

Daily sales have more than doubled at the Corner Store this semester as a result.

?People are just buying baskets of groceries,? said Amie Miller, manager of the Store.

Junior Laura Caplan, a student manager at the Store, said the change has been well received. ?The students are very excited that they can use their dining plan to buy food at the store. The occasional complaint is that they can?t pay for soda and candy with declining balance.?

Many taxable items such as personal hygiene products and general merchandise have been relocated to the bookstore. However, certain staple items such as soda, candy, paper products and feminine hygiene items will remain available for purchase at the Corner Store with cash or Flex dollars.

New York state gives a tax exemption on all purchases made on university meal plans as long as they meet certain requirements. Some items, such as candy, do not meet those requirements. Allowing such items to be purchased with a meal plan would render all meal-plan purchases taxable.

Items are now labeled with signs to indicate what items are taxable and cannot be bought with declining balance. Cashiers can also answer questions.

Other changes include the addition of two new refrigerators to make room for produce items and home-meal replacement dinners. These pre-made dinners are made at Douglass Food Court and packaged so students can microwave them in their rooms, said Paul Palmer, Aramark resident district manager.

Changes have also made room for more cultural options. Palmer said that Halal meats and pre-made Halal dinners are now available for the Muslim community.

The increased traffic has also increased need for more employees. This semester Miller hired seven new student employees, primarily for stocking the quickly emptying shelves.

The idea of being able to use declining dollars came about last spring and was originally intended to be in place by last semester. Palmer explained that the complications between taxable and non-taxable items held up the transition for one semester.

Despite the initial idea of placing a limit on declining balance funds able to be spent at the Corner Store, students will be able to spend an unlimited amount of their dining plan.

Sophomore Lonny Mallach, Students? Association chief of staff, praised the administration for its perseverance.

?Despite many stumbling blocks in implementing declining at the Corner Store, [River Campus] Dean [of Students Mary-Beth] Cooper and other administrators continued to pursue it and made it happen,? he said.

Students seem to be very appreciative of the change.

?It?s so convenient to be able to use my dining plan to buy groceries right on campus,? said Class of 2003 Senator Lana Knox.

The Aramark staff has also noticed the students? approval.

?It?s nice to come into work now and know that students are happy, especially now that they can buy Ben & Jerry?s on declining,? Miller said.

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