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How to spend your leftover dining money

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With just a week left to drain Housing & Food Services (HFS) dining accounts, UW students are scrambling for solutions to various levels of avail. Kitchen utensils quietly sold all year at the District Market are now hot commodities, and expensive snacks and pre-made meals are being exchanged at a pace bordering on fervor. Time is counting down in the use-it-or-lose-it UW dining economy. 

Here is your comprehensive guide to blowing $200 of HFS dining money in a week. 

First, snack hoarding is a common and effective account-emptying tactic. 

“I’m planning on stocking up for summer,” first-year Julie Folting said. “I also like to buy a lot of Starbucks.”

Scrounge the candy and chips section for your favorite gas station favorites and set aside a bin or drawer for summer snacking; stock up on soda and energy drinks. Strike now while you still have a wide selection — your future self will thank you for your foresight. 

Another strategy is to extend your good graces to your friends and acquaintances — become a community provider, a mother hen, or a hero for those who miscalculated how much dining money they needed and are now, just in time for finals week, coming up short. 

“I know a kid who has like a good amount of dining money left,” second-year Alex Best said. “He’s just buying everyone else’s meals.”

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Use this as an opportunity to pay back karma, take your sweetheart out for a dining hall date, or pay back the friends you never Venmoed after that night out at Flowers. Your good deeds, surely, will not go unnoticed. 

The third option is a long-standing tradition of black market cutlery and dish trade.

“My oldest brother used to buy all the bowls and stuff and then he’d sell them,” Folting said. “Sometimes he would sell them to his other college friends because he wasn’t gonna live in the dorms.”

Other common places to sell items are Facebook Marketplace and eBay. Students turn to these options because dishware is the most expensive collection of items sold at UW markets, and because it gives students the ability to earn some money back. Whether you are selling a microwave rice cooker, a five-pack of Sriracha, or a brand new kitchen knife, use this opportunity to put your Foster School of Business education to use. 

Folting also suggested donating to the UW Food Pantry, which is an incredible option for those who want to make a positive difference in our community. It’s also great for those who are moving out of town and have to keep their loads light. Donate shelf-stable items and hygiene products to the pantry’s location in Poplar Hall. At this time, the UW Food Pantry is not accepting refrigerated or frozen items. For more information, explore the UW Food Pantry website and their ‘What does the food pantry need?’ FAQ section. 

One last method for finishing out your dining account is to host an elaborate meal with friends. Meet up with friends at Gas Works or Ravenna Park for a potluck-style dinner or picnic. Put those communal kitchens to good use and make a multi-ingredient meal to share. Say your last goodbyes to friends who are heading out of town. Embrace hedonism. And don’t forget ice cream and drinks.

Reach contributing writer Quinn Rector at Twitter: @QuinnRector

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