UPDATE: University makes headway on efforts to donate unused meal plans

UPDATE: University makes headway on efforts to donate unused meal plans

After months of planning and discussion with various university departments, George Mason University is making headway towards implementing a program that would allow students and faculty to voluntarily donate their unused meal plans.

Student Government unanimously passed a bill on Thursday, April 18 in favor of implementing the Patriot 2 Patriot program proposed by sophomore Yara El Mowafy.

“I wanted to use it [the bill] two-fold,” said Alex Williams, Student Government president. “One, to demonstrate to the administration this is something Student Government supports, and also, to offer the members any questions they had about it [the program].”

Williams said his fellow Student Government members helped pass the resolution to demonstrate the presence of student support for the program.

After the resolution passed, Williams met with Rose Pascarell, vice president of university life, Mark Kraner, executive director of retail operations, and Gregg Toney, assistant vice president of Auxiliary Enterprises, to discuss the variables that need to be resolved in order to make the program function.

However, during their discussion, issues arose concerning the change Mason Dining will be making to the meal plan system come fall 2014.

“Our meal plans change fall 2014 to Anytime Dining, so there will be no meals to donate,” Kraner said.

According to Kraner, Anytime Dining might not be able to align with this vision. With Anytime Dining, students will have the option to pay a flat rate for unlimited meals. Since these meals will be unlimited, there will be no “leftover” cost to donate.

Anytime Dining will include an additional dining hall, resembling Southside, and dining options featured 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Kraner said an estimated cost for an Anytime Dining meal plan is about $1,800 per semester.

Although Auxiliary Enterprises, University Life and Student Government support the program and its intentions, Anytime Dining would affect El Mowafy’s vision for the logistics of the program.

Kraner said he will continue to work with University Services and University Life on the logistics to implement the program until Anytime Dining takes effect, while keeping cost low.

“We are trying to figure out how much need there is for this [program],” Kraner said. “And it will be interesting to see where they draw the line [for eligibility].”

While the logistics are being sorted, Student Health Services and Mason Dining are willing to informally assist students in need of a meal.

“It is not uncommon for our staff from Student Health Services to work with Mason Dining to secure meal passes for students who come thru the center that need a meal or two but can't currently afford to buy one,” Pascarell said in an email.

Pascarell said that for the remainder of the semester students should contact Kraner if they are in need of any meal assistance.

The program proposal will be available for endorsement signing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Johnson Center kiosk H from April 29 until May 10.

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