Four student businesses on the University of Massachusetts campus will be allowed to accept Dining Dollars starting this fall under a new agreement with UMass Auxiliary Enterprises.
When students return from summer break, patrons of Earthfoods Café, Greeno Sub Shop, Sweets ‘N More and Sylvan Snack Bar will be able to pay using Dining Dollars, in addition to YCMP swipes, cash and credit.
The agreement was the result of lengthy negotiations between members of the student businesses and representatives of Auxiliary Enterprises. It is a one-year agreement, but Garrett DiStefano, director of residential dining, said both parties would like to sign a long-term agreement.
Student businesses are entirely staffed and run by students, overseen by the Center for Student Businesses, and, under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by representatives from student businesses, Auxiliary Enterprises and UMass administration, submit financial reports to Auxiliary Enterprises at the end of each semester. All of the businesses are operated separately under a non-profit co-op model, using any extra money to maintain their equipment and update their offerings.
According to Ashley Griggs, one of the co-managers at Sweets ‘N More, being able to accept Dining Dollars should boost business in the coming years.
“I think it will be a great thing for business,” she said.
Griggs also expressed a desire to see People’s Market, a student-run convenience store located in the Student Union, included in the agreement in the future.
Both the managers of the businesses and administrators at Dining Services expect the increase in revenue to stem largely from underclassmen, whose meal plans generally include Dining Dollars. Underclassmen are less likely to have a YCMP plan because they are often required to have unlimited swipes for the four dining halls, and YCMP plans are only available to juniors and seniors.
Dining Dollars, which are exchanged dollar-for-dollar, provide more flexibility for students, as compared to YCMPs, which have a fixed cash value of $9.50.
“The idea is that if a student wants to use a dollar-for-dollar exchange for something, they can do that,” DiStefano said.
“The value of them being able to buy a small purchase is that … they don’t necessarily have to find the nine dollars and 50 cents and fill that swipe and not feel like they’ve been gypped.”
Both DiStefano and Griggs expect that this new agreement will be a boon for the student businesses and help them continue to prosper in years to come.
“It’s part of the fabric of UMass,” DiStefano said. “It’s not something that’s going to go away, nor should it ever.”
Isaac Burke can be reached at [email protected]