Students, managers grapple with high food prices

Cari Arthur

Cari Arthur
City Times

Of students interviewed Oct. 3 who buy food from the cafeteria, they all agree – food prices are excessively high.

Student Brandi Currin said that at this time she does not have a choice so she is buying food from the cafeteria even with “the ridiculously high price.”

Also agreeing the prices are too high is student Priscilla Douglas: “You get a tiny salad for $4.”

Then there is student Tian Lu who, does not like to eat food purchased in the cafeteria because, “Pizza and french fries are not healthy . and they are too expensive.”

District Food Services Manager Gayla Pierce has been in the food service business for 30 years and has not seen the increases go up as substantially as they have in the past six-eight months.

“We’re basically trying to break even, we are trying to keep our heads above water, we are trying to make it reasonable for people to eat here.” Pierce continued to say, “We are not charging the prices we are charging to try a make a profit.”

According to Pierce, the cost of food is going up from beef to produce and the majority of vendors are charging a fuel surcharge or they are increasing their prices on food items.

In fact, Pierce said she has seen prices go up more now then she has seen them go up in the last 10 years.

“A good example right now is over the summer the price of the popular orange chicken product went up $9 per case. There is no way this program can absorb a $9 a case increase in product.”

What’s not helping the cause is, according to Pierce, it takes a lot of time to source a vendor, make sure the products taste good and that they are at a reasonable price.

The cafeteria ran through their entire on-hand stash of orange chicken product, so it is now off the menu until food services can find a new source.

Pierce also mentions that students are not taxed on most food items. Of course, there are some exceptions.

“It has to do with state board of equalization. That is why the cashiers ask if you are a student or not. Everything gets ringed up with tax and then once they tell a cashier I am a student then the cashier will hit a button and the tax will be deducted.”

Pierce prefers to raise the cafeteria’s pricing once in the summer for the entire year. Last year they had a few items that had a very large increase in price.

“Generally we try to adjust the prices during the summer and hold them as much as we can throughout the academic year. We did that last year and we took a hit on a lot of items.” said Pierce.

According to Pierce, vendors are continuing to pass on weekly price increases. Therefore, students may see another pricing adjustment in January. “Once the price goes up, it never comes back down.”