The UT Dining system does not allow dining dollars to roll over from spring semester to fall.
On Monday, students will have a chance to donate their excess dining dollars to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Fadi Saleh, a sophomore in College Scholars with a focus in medical administration, thought of the idea to donate excess dining dollars in the fall of 2012, when he had $500 left over in his dining dollars account.
After realizing the money would roll over from fall to spring but not from spring to summer, he began to wonder how to more effectively distribute the funds.
"How can this go to something where it's not just going back to the university?" Saleh asked. "Honestly, for the university, it's probably just a drop in the bucket."
Saleh organized a Facebook event and contacted Second Harvest Food Bank. After receiving support from Second Harvest and UT Dining, he began coordinating UT's first dining dollar donation drive. Trucks stationed outside eight of the nine convenient stores on campus will accept donations — perishable, non perishable and even non-food items — before dropping them off at Second Harvest.
Saleh said Second Harvest will take anything, even sushi, but lamented the lack of their most wanted items.
"One limitation this has, of course ... Second Harvest's most wanted items are usually not sold or not sold in great quantities," he said. "Stuff like peanut butter: I've been to three of the convenience stores and haven't seen any peanut butter."
In the future, the ambitious Saleh hopes to alleviate the shortcomings of campus convenient stores by allowing the direct donation of excess dining dollars to local nonprofits like Second Harvest.
"If we can give food banks ... the power to use the money that we donate in the way that they feel is best for the community — which they have experience with this — then that could just help the community more," he said.
The Facebook event has more than 140 confirmed participants, and for sophomore civil engineering major Katie Roth, the opportunity comes at just the right time.
After transferring to UT from Alabama this semester, Roth initially purchased a meal plan with $200 dining dollars. She worried that she was using more dining dollars than meals, so she switched to one with $500.
Now, with only a study day and five days of exams left before school's out for sumer, Roth said she still has $200 left.
"I guess $500 was just too many, but $200 wasn't enough," she said. "There wasn't an in-between one that applied to me."
She's been spreading the wealth by buying food for her friends and even shopping at the convenient stores for basic goods. Still, she said she was excited for the opportunity to put the remaining balance to good use.
"I'm not going to use the rest of my dining dollars, I still have over $200 left and it's a good cause," Roth said. "Otherwise they just go to waste."