With the closure of Putnam Refectory for the remainder of the semester, the University of Connecticut’s Dining Services granted all Hilltop residents with a meal plan 600 extra points to use elsewhere for on-campus dining.
In February, Dining Services announced its plans to add the complimentary points for meal plan holders residing in the Hilltop dorms, in lieu of the necessary closure of Putnam Refectory for construction. At that time, Dining Services had not made a decision about how many points would be added.
“After receiving input from students we have determined to add 600 additional points, effective Sunday, March 20th, to each Hilltop resident who has a traditional meal plan (Ultimate, Value & Custom),” stated an email, signed by Dining Services executive director Dennis Pierce, sent to Hilltop residents on March 9th.
When asked, Pierce said he currently did not have the number of plan-holding residents who received extra points. All students living on-campus in any residence other than apartments must have a meal plan. Hilltop Residence Halls have two buildings (Ellsworth and Hale), each with eight floors and Garrigus Suites is one building with five floors, according to UConn Reslife’s website.
“We estimated what was needed if students were to use our retail operations,” Pierce said.
Regularly, all three meal plans include unlimited access to all eight dining halls on campus. The Custom Plan includes 75 flex passes and no points, though students can purchase a custom amount of points if they choose to. The Value Plan includes 40 flex passes and 200 points, while the Ultimate Plan includes 35 flex passes and 500 points.
Flex passes can be used to swipe guests into dining halls and for meals at Grab & Go’s around campus. On the other hand, points can be used at accepting university retail operations such as UC cafés and the Student Union Marketplace. Flexes and points are meant to last the entire semester and do not roll over, according to Dining Services’ website.
“Please choose the meal plan which you believe most closely reflects your eating habits and how many meals you will eat during the semester. Please buy conservatively,” a disclaimer states on Dining Services’ website.
With six weeks left in the semester at the time of the point add-on, second-semester mechanical engineering major and Ellsworth resident Kalie Pasqualicchio said she thought the addition was excessive.
Though Pasqualicchio said she started the semester with the Ultimate Plan, she had only used about 250 out of 500 points until now. The addition left her with over 900 points.
Since the Union seems to be one of the closest dining options to the Hilltop area, Pasqualicchio rationalized that Dining Services probably allotted 100 points per week to carry through the end of the semester; but she said it’s unlikely that people will eat there every day for every meal.
“We’re (Hilltop residents) not far from any dining hall really,” Pasqualicchio said. “This made it more convenient for us, but if they didn’t do this we’d just figure it out ourselves.”
Pierce clarified that though students were involved with decisions made regarding alternative dining and suggested additional points, “they were not part of establishing the balance given to them.”
“We cannot predict where students will eat with the many options we provided them,” Pierce said. “The intent was not to have them use all (the points) but have them available.”
“I’ve taken my friends out to dinner at Chuck & Augie’s four different times and I would never do that if I didn’t have these points,” Pasqualicchio said. “It is good though, because it really is inconvenient that Putnam is closed.”
While the points do not roll over, Dining Services provided them free of charge to students, though the price of one point is not equivalent to one dollar for them. But Pierce said it’s difficult to say whether or not Dining Services will lose money over any wasted points since expenses have changed since Putnam was operating.
Many alternative dining options are available to Hilltop students, such as continental breakfast, box meals, on site barbeques and the ability to use swipes at the on-site Food for Thought food truck. The latest updates on alternative dining can be found on Dining Services’ website.
Molly Stadnicki is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.