Food choices too expensive for college students

The stereotype associated with most college students is people working a minimum wage job living off of ramen noodles and McDonald’s because all of their money goes toward school. UNA Dining does not cater to these students.

Beginning fall 2016, UNA signed a new contract for their food provider. Chartwells, UNA’s current provider, gave UNA a better price and received the contract over long- time UNA partner, Sodexo.

Despite many students remaining unsatisfied with Sodexo, at least Sodexo understood that a college student lived off a quick grab and go pizza for $3. If someone were to look on campus two years later, they would not find such wallet-friendly options.

The average price of a meal on campus is $7. Students can expect to pay around $10 for an average meal portion and a drink from the majority of campus dining locations.

The cheapest options for food on campus are at 256 Burger, Einstein’s and Chick- fil-A. These options are not considered cheap, but they are cheap in comparison to the other restaurants on campus aimed at the working middle class.

As a college student who eats on campus at least twice a day, I go through approximately $80 a week eating on campus. Because I work a minimum wage job, this takes up the majority of my check.

It is cheaper to walk to McDonald’s or Taco Bell and pay $5 for a decent size meal. Why would a dining service catering to college students offer dining options the majority of students cannot afford to eat on a regular basis?

At UNA, the best option for paying for food is with a meal plan. The best value for student money is at Mane Market where students can eat a variety of options and have as many drink refills as they want for $10.

The meal plan with the best value includes five meal swipes at Mane Market a week and $255 dining dollars. This option costs $835 a semester for a 15-week semester. This puts students paying $55 a week for food on campus.

UNA Dining should not have so much of a monopoly over food options that students are almost required to buy a meal plan to save money. The university should offer dining options for students at every price range.

This is not a problem specific to college students. Food prices affect every department on campus because of catering contracts.

UNA Dining currently has a survey to receive student feedback on their dining options. This includes efficiency of specific dining locations and overall satisfaction with UNA Dining.

I encourage all students, faculty and staff to take this survey on UNA Dining options. Let UNA Dining know the group they are catering to is a group of college students. Remind them that students have a voice in how much money ends up in their pocket. We are not required to accept what we are given.

If someone is unhappy with UNA Dining, I highly recommend taking the food survey. I know I will.