Pomona College is considering a variety of strategies to help close a dining services budget shortfall, including a change to the default meal plan, said Dean of Campus Life Ric Townes.
“There’s a huge financial gap between the money taken in to run the program and the costs to run the program, so the college is trying to figure out how to bridge the gap,” Townes said.
Townes said that this gap is caused in part by the closing of Frank Dining Hall on weekends. Frank is closed on weekends due to understaffing caused by the firing of 17 Pomona employees in December after controversial document checks. Townes said that he does not know whether Frank will open on weekends before the end of the year.
Other financial restraints are the result of the school’s move to a self-operated Dining Services last year, Townes said.
“As a self-op, we have a different set of financial challenges,” he said.
Townes said that conversations between the Board of Trustees, the Office of Campus Life, the Dean of Students Office and Dining Services have generated ideas for several possible changes, including a change to the default meal plan in order to increase revenue.
The new, more expensive default meal plan would be 19 meals a week with $160 of Board Plus, instead of the current 16 meals with $160 of Board Plus. This meal plan would also grant unlimited access to the dining halls, meaning that a student could go to the same meal twice without being charged extra.
“We don’t have a choice,” Townes said. “There are going to have to be changes to the meal plan and changes to the program.”
Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum presented this plan to the Associated Students of Pomona College Senate April 9.
South Campus Representative Nick Lawson PO ’14 said the Senate did not believe that many students would stay on the default meal plan. Because there are few students who regularly eat breakfast, Lawson said that he did not think a 19-meal plan would be attractive to students.
“There will probably be more students that will choose to go on the 19-meal plan, which will give the dining services more money,” said Lawson, who sits on the Food Committee. “But I think we’re going to see a lot more people moving off the default and moving to lower meal plans.”
Antonela Miho PO ’15 said that she eats seven to eight meals a week in a dining hall and switched from the current default plan to the minimum 12-meal plan.
“That’s an absurd amount of meals,” Miho said, referring to the potential new plan.
Townes said that he is looking forward to getting input on the plan from the Food Committee. The conversations will resume in fall 2012.
Feldblum said that any changes to the plan would need to wait until the 2013-2014 academic year.