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Want Takeout? Pay up.

May 12, 2009

by Will Broer
Want Takeout? Pay up.

Sharp-eyed students at Scripps dining hall may have spotted this notice outside Mallott, "Yes, it is true the charge will be $0.50 per-takeout kit at all the colleges..." What I had hoped to brush off as mere speculation was just confirmed by Pam Franco, General Manager of Collins. Starting next year, 5C students taking their meals to-go must pay a fifty cent fee per use, out of pocket. Franco attributed the addition charge to rising costs of eco-friendly containers, "The cost of one to go kit is about 3 to 4 times the cost of what it was last year when we switched from Styrofoam (very inexpensive at the time) to the compostable." According to the notice outside Mallott, "...Scripps College spends $18,000 per semester on paper products for takeout," and the new charge ($0.50 for a clam shell container, utensils, and a cup) should just cover expenditures. Plus, there is a sense that fewer boxes would be better generally for the colleges; apparently it would "help the environment, help contain costs to keep prices as low as possible and help encourage a sense of community at the dining halls." So to keep pace with rising costs and to reduce take-out usage, the dining halls are adding a pay-as-you-go fee for take-out kits. They have discussed making the charge payable by cash, Claremont Cash, and flex, but are still working out the details and are considering paid but reusable alternatives.

However students end up having to pay the charge, having to pay it now is certain--though this fact seems largely unknown. The Student Life and Claremont Conservative have speculated on this possibility, but some initial reactions from CMC students suggest most still don't know--and aren't happy to find out now. CMCer Julie Smith '10 remarked, "This seems like the kind of thing they should have to tell students about before deciding. I mean, we pay over $50,000 per year for tuition, room, board and meals, but we still have to pay for takeout containers?"

Even at $0.50, the take-out charge could significantly impact students' choices and day-to-day life, since the fee will have to be paid out of pocket, not through the total cost of the meal plan. If the change had been in effect this semester, those students with tight lunchtime schedules two days a week would have to pay at least $14 in takeout fees. Add in two more meals a week (maybe busy Monday and Wednesday dinners) and the total climbs to $28. A hypothetical hermit who ate every lunch and dinner in his or her own room would have to shell out $98 dollars to avoid the company of other human beings. Students with less flex to throw around might keep students from frequenting such student hangouts as the Muddhole, the Coop or the Hub.

Of course, the full impact of the change remains to be seen, but what's certain now is that whether students are know it or not, come next year everybody will find that getting food from the 5C dining halls has just become a little more expensive.

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