$1,188 dollars and 29 cents.

That’s not how many food points I started out with this semester, it is how many food points I have left. According to the food point usage chart on Duke’s website, I should be at a little under $600, but, in fact, I’m at nearly double that.

I’m not insanely frugal. I eat three meals a day nearly every day, I frequent Quenchers nearly 4 times a week, and I enjoy more fourth meals at Pitchforks than I’m proud to admit. Foster’s on the Fly makes a mean chicken bacon sandwich with tots that I love, and Enzo’s is clutch when I do not want to leave my dorm or when the weather is terrible—God bless those deliverymen and women. So, how the heck do I have so many food points?

I’m on full financial aid, which means that Duke gives me the second highest meal plan. I’m also not 21-years-old yet, which means the Loop Bar and goods at the Devil’s Bistro are not an option. Add to that being raised on food stamps, being taught to finish a plate or save it for later, and seeing my mom stretch every dollar to buy what was needed and the excess food points begin to make a little more sense. About half of my excess food points rolled over from last semester. These points along with the excess points from this semester have accumulated into a ridiculously large sum of food points that must be used in the next two weeks.

Well, looks like it is teatime and filet mignon at the Washington Duke Inn every day until LDOC right?

No. Not for me.

I have nothing against the WaDuke and, when my family visits next weekend, you can bet I’ll be treating them to a fancy family dinner at the WaDuke. But something I am uncomfortable with is splurging hundreds of food points, equivalent in value to money, on gourmet food in an upscale resort with a few friends just because I have points to blow. Those same food points have the potential to impact the lives of hundreds of homeless families in Durham. Families who travel miles to get to the food bank in search of a meal. Families whose only daily meal relies on the donations of individuals that have excess, individuals like us. Families who don’t have the resources or knowledge to access welfare. That’s why my excess food points will not be used on herb-crusted grouper with vegetable julienne or beef tenderloin with balsamic cipollini jus. Instead, they will be used on peanut butter, canned meats, canned fruits, canned vegetables, soup, beans, granola bars and cereals—all items on the Durham Food Bank’s “Urgent Needs” list.

My plea to you is not to give up buying a friend a meal on your food points, or to boycott the WaDuke, but, rather, to think about the impact that your excess food points can have when applied to canned goods and non-perishable items rather than gourmet foods and afternoon tea. The large majority of us walk through the Bryan Center at least once a day, the Lobby Shop sells all the things on the “Urgent Needs” list on food points and Uncle Harry’s on Central Campus and the Place under the Marketplace, affectionately known as the PUMP, on East Campus do the same. Two minutes out of your day can mean the world to someone in need.

Contact me if you would like information on where you can donate in Durham or if you want me to take canned goods to the food bank for you. My email is sb286@duke.edu.

Santiago Bejarano is a Trinity sophomore.