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The Infrequent Diner Program

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 The Infrequent Diner Program photo 2

I have a wallet full of “frequent diner” cards. These are the cards that get hole-punched or rubber-stamped each time I eat at a certain restaurant. After a dozen or so purchased meals, I get a meal or entree for free.

According to the restaurant, I “earned” this free meal with my loyalty. But how did I “earn” it? Did I work for it, toil for it? Or did I just have lunch a lot at the place near my office?

So here is my idea. The next time I “earn” something for nothing like this, I will give it to someone who actually has nothing.

I’d like to call this the Infrequent Diner Program. Because it’s for people who most likely do not dine in restaurants with any frequency.

When I give money to a homeless person, I give a dollar. But lunch downtown is $6 at least, even at a fast food place. This card, which cost me nothing, can get someone a full meal.

And do I need this card as incentive to go back to the restaurant? Probably not— I would go anyway to a place that is nearby, decent, and reasonable, especially if it has outdoor seating (my office has no window).

Do I even need to get a free meal in the first place? Well, I just bought 10 meals there, so probably not.

I don’t agree with people who say: “I don’t give to the homeless because they will only spend it on drugs.” But even those people cannot argue with the Infrequent Diner Program; the cards can only be redeemed at the restaurants that offered them—for food.

Joining the Infrequent Diner Program costs you nothing, and gets someone who really needs it a decent meal. The restaurant is out nothing, either, as they were planning on giving you that free meal anyway.

You can even join the Infrequent Diner Program with your co-workers or roommates. Just tack the card to the break room bulletin board. When someone goes out to lunch, they take the card along, get it punched, and put it back. Whoever gets the last punch gives the full card to a homeless person on the way back, and then tacks the new card to the board.

I can imagine a bulletin board full of cards from all sorts of restaurants you might never otherwise try. Instead of having the old “I dunno, where do you want to go?” conversation, you would go to the board, see what cards there are, and grab one from a place that looked interesting or convenient.

So that’s the Infrequent Diner Program. Please use the comments below to say that you will join, or to add other ways to expand or improve on the idea. Thanks, and bon appetit!

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