I am a Caf Daddy. Here’s Why I’m Not Proud of It:

By: Shira Kramer  |  May 10, 2024

By Shira Kramer, Senior Opinions Editor and Social Media Manager

Walking into the Stern cafeteria during the last few months of school can feel like a war zone. Some people are constantly begging for money while others can be seen calculating just how much food they can buy and still have enough money to last them for the rest of the semester.

For context, the Stern dining plan runs on an interesting and unique system. While most schools use swipes as currency for their dining halls (meaning that you can get as much food as you want once you swipe into the building), the Stern caf uses dollars. With this system, every food has a dollar value and when you go to checkout, the process is akin to checking out at the supermarket. 

As a big fan of girl math, I often see these dollars as fake money because my parents pre-paid for them at the beginning of the year. However, I see faculty and visitors to the university struggle to swipe their cards because news flash YU: a poke bowl should not cost almost $20. This isn’t a five star restaurant. 

YU offers four different meal plans: High, Standard, Low and a non-residential plan exclusively available to commuters. Each plan comes with a certain number of dollars for use at the cafs and an allotted number of what YU calls FLEX dollars. Personally, I love FLEX dollars. 

YU partners with local restaurants where you can use FLEX dollars to buy their food tax free. On Stern’s campus, we have access to Tiberius and Kosher in Midtown via said FLEX money. Additionally, Stern students can use both their FLEX dollars and their on-campus dollars at the Uptown campus and vice versa. 

The major problem that I see with the campus dining plan is that you are either left with way too much money or not enough at the end of each semester. For the fall semester, it’s really okay. While students try to get rid of as much money as they can before the semester comes to a close, they are comforted by the fact that their leftover money will carry over to the next semester. Regarding the spring semester, people like me run like chickens with their heads cut off trying to get rid of their money before it goes into the unknown YU abyss during the summer. This money is not carried over to the next semester and will likely end up funding the second half of the Beren 245 11th floor half basketball court. 

As a new student this past fall, I wasn’t sure what dining option to choose. Looking over the different plans, I realized that as an out-of-towner, the High plan with $2,400 looked like my best option. Of course, as the second half of the semester came, I realized that I made a grave mistake. With $1,500 dollars left, I had no choice but to proclaim myself a caf daddy. 

While this term may sound slightly provocative, it really is utilitarian in nature. As a caf daddy, I ask, no beg, my fellow students to let me sponsor their meals at the end of the semester. Because, like I said, my money from first semester happily jumped over to the spring semester. But, what will I do with the $1,094.72 I have left? 

Most Stern students love caf daddys. However, I am not proud of my standing. I’m sad that I still have so much money in my onecard account. When people ask how much money I have left, I’m embarrassed to share such a large number. In fact, recently when I was checking out in the caf, a Stern student employee laughed when she saw my account. 

I know that there are a lot of people scrambling for dollars to fund their last meals on campus, so please help a caf daddy like me out and find us. YU may not have thought these financial plans all the way through, but together we can support each other in the caf-dollar epidemic that hits like clockwork every semester.