Ham points: Use them or lose them

On top of tuition, New College students also have to pay additional rates for their meal plans at the beginning of the year, whether they live on campus or off. For a number of students, these meal plans are easily spent in Hamilton “Ham” Center, but not all students have exhausted their supply of Ham points by the end of the year.

“It kind of sucks I have to buy a meal plan because I always end up with way too many points,” first-year Dimitri Angelov said. “On one hand it’s due to lack of [food] choices, but also because of the bad hours on the weekend. If I miss them I have to leave campus to eat instead.”

        While points roll over from fall to spring semester, they cannot be rolled over to the following academic year. “If they’re not used, they go back to Metz,” Metz Dining Services Food Service Director Bill Moore said. This means that students are required to either use them or lose them.

Moore hopes for the former and wants students to know that Metz is not trying to rob them of their money. “I don’t want your money unless I earn it and so that’s why we’ve been trying to send out emails to get students to use up their points,” Moore said. “Even the company itself doesn’t want the money, we want you to spend and utilize it. Residential Life feel the same as we do. We want all this money used.”

To achieve this goal, Metz is offering a number of solutions to students who find themselves in this boat. “This semester there’s a community card, donations to the Bradenton Animal Rescue League, donations to the Resurrection House, and then ordering in bulk,” Moore said.

In the past, students have attempted to share their Ham card with others, but this is not allowed due to security reasons. “It’s the school and Metz’s policy. I am liable for every dollar that’s on your card,” Moore said. “We know that some students want to buy meals for their friends, so we ask that they come with them. We’re trying to protect students, while also protecting the college and Metz.”

To provide a win-win situation for everyone involved, Metz has put a community card in place to serve the purpose of feeding students who have run out of Ham points. “The students who are utilizing it are very grateful and those who are donating are so kind,” Moore said. “It’s such a great community thing that we’re doing and it just goes to show what a small, little, close-knit community we are.”

The many points being donated to the community card seem to be added just in the nick of time, before quickly disappearing. “Students combined probably spend about $200 from it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day,” Moore said.

“Last year, I ran out [of points] so early because I didn’t have an income and I struggled just to eat for two months,” second-year Rachael Murphy said.

        “I’ve been able to eat on days where my food situation is uncertain, or where I’m really pressed for time like a lab class,” thesis student Vinushka Schalk said. “When I was a monied first-year I wanted to do stuff like buy all the ice cream in the fridge and hand it out, but the logistics of that are too impractical. It’s way better to donate [to the community card] and know that some mysterious thesis student can eat because of you.”

        For students who would rather donate their money to an established organization, Metz is connecting with the same local nonprofits as last year to provide this option. One of these is the Sarasota Resurrection House, a resource center for at-risk individuals, whose main goal is to help their clients become self-sufficient. Any money donated here goes towards the services that they provide, including counseling, meals, clothes, washroom facilities, hair-cuts and more.

        The other nonprofit organization is the Humane Society of Manatee County (HSMC). “What was really nice is that last year the Animal Rescue League [HSMC] did a complete add-on, where they put a medical facility,” Moore said. “They were so grateful for the donation. A few students and I went down there to tour the facility and take some pictures with the animals.”

        Another option that was available to students up until May 3 was to order products in bulk, which may come in handy when planning for the upcoming semester. Ordering nonperishable in bulk is a good choice for local students or for those who are renting a storage unit for the summer.

        “The reason there’s an earlier deadline for bulk orders is because we go through Unify, Coremark, U.S. Food and Boar’s Head,” Moore said. “I have a stack of orders and have to make sure I order everything from the different providers. What happens a lot of times, too, is that they don’t have items in stock and we need time to go back to the students and ask what else they might want.”

        According to Moore, the community card can be ongoing until the last day of school and any remaining funds will be donated to the HSMC. In regard to donating points to either or both of the nonprofits, this option is available until Friday, May 20 because it “simply requires taking money off the student’s card,” Moore said. So far, “[Metz] probably has close to $10,000 spent on bulk orders, close to $4,000 on the community card, close to $1,000 on the Animal Rescue League [HSMC], and a couple hundred on Resurrection House.”

        Thinking ahead to next year, Metz is playing with the idea of switching from the Humane Society of Manatee County to the Cat Depot. “Anything I try to do, I try to do local,” Moore said. Right now, however, he simply wants to get the word out to students about what their options are in terms of spending their points rather than having them go to waste. “We sent out three emails and students still come in saying they didn’t see one,” Moore said. “I even had a student put one on the Forum for me!”

To contribute money to the community card, HSMC, or Resurrection House, students should either speak with Bill Moore in person or send him an email. Emails should include a student’s N number and the amount that they would like to donate.

Information for this article was gathered from resurrectionhousesarasota.org and humanemanatee.org


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