A $900,000 budget shortfall last year has forced Dining Services, the Office of Campus Life (OCL) and Student Affairs to make considerable changes to Snack, the free and popular fourth meal offered to Pomona College students Sunday through Wednesday nights at Frary Dining Hall, Pomona administrators said.
Dean of Campus Life Ric Townes said that last year, there was a $900,000 gap between the budgeted funds and the cost of running all Pomona dining services, including student meal plans, catering and providing meals to diners from outside the 5Cs.
“Dialing [Snack] back some saves some money to try to bridge this $900,000 gap,” Townes said.
On Sept. 4, Snack’s first night back, students encountered several changes from the Snack of years past. One-time swipe access to the main line had replaced unlimited trips to get food, and ceramic plates were used instead of paper products. Cereal and milk were nowhere to be found.
Since then, students have seen a few policy reversals. Swipe access now allows students into Frary at the front door, and revisiting the main line is allowed.
However, some students said they are still disappointed with the current state of the Pomona tradition.
“I went once this year and was heartbroken,” Jasper Werby PO ’14 said. “Snack used to be magical, decadent.”
Dining Services, OCL and Student Affairs changed Snack to cut back on the high costs of providing free food and disposable utensils.
“It’s actually cheaper to hire a dishwasher for a few extra hours than it is to have paper cups and plates,” said Dining Services’ Sustainability and Purchasing Coordinator Samantha Meyer in a phone interview with TSL.
Dining Services is also trying to keep better track of students who come to Snack. The new swipe-in system is designed to keep an accurate electronic record of traffic and to keep non-Pomona students from attending Snack.
On Thursday, ASPC Senators Darrell Jones III PO ’14, Emma Wolfarth PO ’14 and Tracy Zhao PO ’13 and former South Campus Representative Nick Lawson PO ’14 met with Townes, General Manager of Dining Services Glenn Graziano and Assistant Director of Campus Services Margie McKenna to discuss students’ concerns about Snack.
Although no changes were officially made at the meeting, Graziano and McKenna agreed to consider the ideas that were brought up. Suggestions included closing the foyer and moving food back to tables inside the dining hall, where Snack was held last year; providing cereal more than once a week but encouraging students to bring their own milk; and closing the north door to Frary to free up another employee to run food lines.
Snack is not the only dining service affected by the budget shortfall. Frank Dining Hall has also been closed on Fridays and Saturdays for the fall semester.
“The college will save roughly $400,000 [a year] by keeping Frank closed for two days a week,” Townes said.
Graziano confirmed this figure but said that it is only an estimate. The college will not know for certain how much keeping Frank closed will save until the end of the year.
Graziano said that Dining Services has also been working to enhance the overall quality of dining at Pomona, but improvement has come at a cost.
Two years ago, the college decided to terminate its management contract with Sodexo, one of the largest food services companies in the world. Dining Services is now self-managed, leaving it constrained by Pomona’s budget, Graziano said.
“We don’t make money,” he said of Dining Services. “We’re part of the college now, so our job is to make budget.”
Dining Services has also extended the nine-month contracts that dining employees had under Sodexo to 12-month contracts. This provides more work year-round, but it also cuts into Dining Services’s budget.