AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst is expanding the reach of its UCard program to allow students, staff and faculty members to use the cards for purchases at businesses in the Amherst area. The program was launched this fall.
Three local businesses are currently online in the new system and at least 13 more are going to be added to the program this fall. Beginning on Sept. 12, Amherst Brewing Company, the Newman Center Café and The Sub and Pizza of Amherst are participating in the plan.
The businesses that are in the process of joining are: Antonios by the Slice, The Black Sheep Deli, Bruno’s Pizza, Bueno Y Sano, Dominos (Hadley), Hanger Pub & Grill, Moti, The Pub, Rafters, Rao’s Coffee, Route 9 Diner, White Hut and Wings over Amherst.
Nancy Buffone, executive director of external relations and university events at UMass Amherst, says expanding the UCard program to include local merchants accomplishes a couple of important goals. “We believe this will strengthen the relationship the university enjoys with the local business community and it will provide our students, faculty and staff a new level of convenience,” Buffone says.
Barry Roberts, president of Amherst’s Business Improvement District, says, “Our members are very excited about this.” He says expanding the UCard program, “Gives more opportunity for the students to shop downtown, which is great.”
Roberts also says this move was one of the first things his organization sought from university officials, “and UMass has lived up to its commitment.”
Staff and faculty members with UCard debit accounts can also use the service, according to Thomas J. Mahaney II, UCard manager.
He says UCards are used for a variety of purposes on campus, including for gaining access to residence halls, use as a library card, and as a student ticket to sporting events. In addition to purchasing goods and services at the merchants’ stores, cardholders will be able to order and pay for food from some participating food merchants via the online GET Food platform, which will launch in the weeks ahead, says Mahaney.
Mahaney says students should be aware, however, that even though the UCard is used for the campus meal plan, swipes from that can’t be used under the new program with local merchants.
Money can be added to the debit system on the card by the student, or by an authorized person such as a parent or grandparent, Mahaney says.