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Cafeteria food prices exorbitant, more options should be given

By Kristen Oyer
On October 17, 2012


The quality of student cafeteria food is a highly discussed topic. It seems that everyone has an opinion, and I’m no exception.

I think the quality of the food is terrible and so does most everyone else. However, that’s not my main issue with cafeteria food. I was recently crunching numbers because I’m considering moving off campus next year. In an attempt to prove that living off campus is less expensive than staying in a dorm, I did the math. What I found, especially in relation to the cost of food, was astounding.

Did you know that if you have a regular meal plan, you are paying $1,995 per semester for food? This semester is 16 weeks long—that means that the average student pays approximately $124.69 for food each week.

For students that have the 19 meal plan, each cafeteria meal costs $6.56. Students with the 15 meal plan pay $8.31 per meal and those with the 10 meal plan pay $12.46 per meal.

Granted, there is flex cash that can be used in the snack bar. However, the 10 meal plan with $150 flex cash gets $9.38 per week for the snack bar and the 15 meal plan with $100 flex cash receives $6.25 per week. Also, the $50 flex cash you get with the 19 meal plan gets you a whopping $3.13 per week—substantially less than a chicken strip combo meal.

These prices are outrageous. I’m on the 10 meal plan (because I don’t have the time or the will-power to eat in the cafeteria any more frequently) and I’m pretty sure I could eat every single meal for cheaper than $12.46. Even if you average in the 1 2/3 meal I’m getting from the snack bar per week, I’m still spending approximately $10.69 per meal.

Steak night is the highlight of the month for anyone on campus, but I can get a higher quality 7oz. Sirloin steak with seasonal vegetables and potatoes from Applebees for $10.19.

I can eat a full meal at McDonald’s for under $6. Subway, a healthier choice, doesn’t cost me much more. There are so many ways to save money without the meal plan. I understand that the cafeteria is all you can eat, but there are a lot of people who don’t eat enough to constitute paying out that kind of cash, myself included.

Unfortunately, from the place of a student, there’s not a lot that can be done to help this problem. If you are under 21 and not of senior status, you must live on campus, and therefore purchase a meal plan. There’s not much choice but to suck it up and shell out the cash.

We can, however, open up the lines of communication regarding this issue. We’re supposed to be gaining an education, so use that to discuss different food options with others to come up with ideas to present to the administration. There’s no reason why the cost of living should be so high, simply because we are choosing to pursue an education.

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