In a season where many students are celebrating the blessings they have been given, and one where all students are feeling the pressures of the end of the semester, sometimes even the smallest acts of kindness can have a big impact. Patrons at one campus eatery have recently become part of a trend that encourages creating these small impacts and the warmth of these kind actions can be felt all around.
Students who have university meal plans are allotted a certain number of meal swipes each week. At the Hub, one swipe equates to one meal at the all-you-care-to-eat buffet. At the Den, there are set meals which add up to one meal swipe (usually an entrée, a side and a drink). Students who visit the Den, as well as those who go to the cafés and the Hub Express, can exchange a swipe for a given number of items. Most students feel that these options give them a variety of choices and adequately satisfy their hunger at each trip to one of these eateries.
However, on some occasions, students do not wish to purchase the full number of items possible with a swipe. They are then left with two options: use some of their flex dollars, which students are not given as much of each semester; or, they can use their swipe for less than its full value, which some would consider a waste.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous, wanted to solve the problem of waste and share a little smile with her fellow students.
“One student started asking us to give her unused items to other students and then others started following her lead,” said Julie Goss, who works at Café Allegro in the GCPA.
Goss said this student began “paying it forward” at the beginning of the semester and that when many others followed, the students seemed to be receptive to continuing it.
“Toward the end of last year, this student and some others would sometimes leave their card with us and ask us to use it to pay for everyone’s food to get them down to a certain balance on their meal plan, so this is, I guess, their version of that for the new type of plan,” said Debbie Hurst, another regular worker at Café Allegro.
This is a student-led program that has just been facilitated by the staff of Café Allegro in their role as the sellers of the food and drinks.
“This is not a program that was implemented by DePauw Dining or Bon Appétit at any location,” said Jason Rose, general manager of Bon Appétit.
Unused items are not automatically used to pay it forward; they are only used this way if students ask the staff them to. Goss said she and Hurst usually encourage students to use the full value of their swipes on themselves, and only after students refuse that option do they mention the possibility of paying it forward, an option which students are not forced to take.
Above all, they highlighted the anonymous kindness of students who pursue this option and said that they hope that students continue to find ways spread good feelings, during this season and always.