For Students Off Meal Plan, No Late-Night Snack

Over the last two weeks, many upperclassmen and students off of the meal plan have noticed that they are not being allowed Snack, the 10:30 Collins meal consisting of greasy food and cheerful socializing. After the administration gave Bon Appétit, the company that manages meals at Claremont McKenna College, a reduced budget for the year, Bon Appétit decided that limiting Snack to students on the meal plan was the best option to reduce costs.

Snack was implemented to accommodate students' sleep schedules, and give them a chance to fraternize. "Many college students don’t eat breakfast in the morning and are hungry at night," said Vice President for Student Affairs Jeff Huang. "A second reality is that there have been times when the Hub was not open and there weren’t a whole lot of food options for students at night.  It was also a very good to build community among students from across the college."

The Snack attendance policy change affects the entire campus, not just hungry upperclassmen.

“It’s kind of unfortunate for underclassmen on the meal plan as well as for upperclassmen off the meal plan,” explains Charles Johnson '11, who is off the meal plan. “When I first came to CMC, I met a lot of the seniors and other upperclassmen at snack. Snack was one of the few events that we all had in common. It was healthy for the school.”

The administration blamed the economy for the change in policy.

“The downturn in the economy hit us like it did a lot of other [colleges]. We tried to figure out how we could economize within the college’s budget without major disruption to student programs,” explains Dean Huang. “Our treasurer had to come up with some different budgets. There was a meeting between herself, myself and Bon Appétit where she suggested what we could do to save money, and Bon Appétit also had several ideas.”

Bon Bon Appétit has made a number of budget cuts over the past year, including canceling Snack on Sunday nights, removing trays, which colleges found can save up to 5% of their food waste, reducing the number of meals faculty receive for free each week, and closely managing overtime, cookware and other supplies.

Cutting snack from five nights a week to four saved the school approximately $50,000. Back of the envelope calculations reveal that the school is saving between $2,000 and $12,000 this year by excluding students who are off of the meal plan.1

“I don’t know of any other colleges that have a free fourth meal either for the boarders or for the non-boarders,” explains Dean Huang. “There is a lot of food to be found on this campus, Athenaeum tea, Ath programs themselves, whether you are on [the meal plan] or not.”

"I think that they should give at least a discounted rate, for seniors especially,” says Johnson. “I am really barred from having any sort of interaction with underclassmen. The Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College will have elections later on in the year and most upperclassmen won’t even be allowed to go see the speeches since they are usually held at snack. It will have a negative impact on campus camaraderie.”

1. Assuming Snack costs $200,000 per year, the school provides Snack on 128 nights a year, food/drink costs are 30% of Snack budget, between 5% and 20% of traditional Snack attendees were off the meal plan, and non-attendance by those students translates directly into lower food costs.