Returning students may notice that their meal plans are not going as far as they have in previous years, as everyone feels the increase in price that Campus Auxiliary Services has implemented.
According to Director of Dining Services Ginny Geer-Mentry, the items with the most dramatic increase were soda and water, while the general cost of food sold in dining halls increased 3 percent.
Geer-Mentry said that an increase in the Consumer Price Index has put stress on food service providers to close the gap between the cost of materials and the price students pay for food. In 2007, the index rose 4.9 percent while 2008 saw an increase of 8.2 percent. "Grains alone rose 12.1 percent," Geer-Mentry said.
CAS Executive Director Mark Scott said that it was a difficult decision for CAS to raise prices. "We want to make sure we do everything possible to keep cost competitive but within reason," he said, adding that he hopes to keep the impact of the economic situation on students and their families low.
To help offset the rising costs of food, CAS offers a few options.
"We try to keep healthy food choices affordable for students," Geer-Mentry said. CAS has also introduced an item called the "Enviro-Mug." Students are encouraged to purchase the mug for $3.99 and use the fountain machine for beverages rather than bottled drinks. "This will save students roughly 25 cents per drink."
Geer-Mentry encouraged students to see her or a dining manager if they need help with budgeting. She advised those looking to find better ways to make their money last longer to be cost-savvy.
"What you pay depends on what you buy," she said. "Foods are important. Soda is not."
While some individual items have gone up in price, Geer-Mentry explained that the overall meal plan will not reflect the change until March, when meal plan pricing takes place.
Students have been quick to air their concerns about the issue.
Sophomore Wei Cen said that he has to eat more carefully now to make his meal plan last, while Junior Elise Krol was disappointed with how CAS dealt with the situation.
"The advertising for the increases could have been handled better," Krol said. "It's only been two and a half weeks and I've already spent over $100."
Sophomore Terrance Carroll was upset that prices "keep rising without improvement to service."
Sophomore Sam Reynolds added "We stand in line and wait forever for service. The quality of service could be better for what we pay."
Scott acknowledged the importance of quality service. "We definitely have room for improvement, which we are trying to work on," he said. "The moment we stop trying to improve quality or say there is no room for improvement is the moment we're in trouble."