Culinary service explains campus dining prices

More than parking, housing or even textbooks, campus dining is regarded as the ultimate college rip-off.

This notion holds true at Gannon University, where students – when asked their opinions on campus food prices – blurt words like “ridiculous” and “outrageous,” occasionally with an eye roll.

Metz Culinary Management, however believes these claims are inaccurate.

The company’s prices are based on budgeted food costs, according to General Manager Pete Mannarelli.

Metz typically sells at 36 to 40 percent food cost. So a burger that sells for $2.50 actually costs about 40 percent of $250, or $1 to make.

“The different operations on campus do give all students a 10 percent discount on all items,” Mannarelli said.

“I am not sure if all students are aware of this.”

Students are not only concerned about the prices of individual products, but also the prices of entire meal plans. This year’s resident freshmen had to choose between 227 meals per semester at $2,085 and 277 meals at $2,450.

Tyler Babcock, a senior nursing major, recalls his own experience with the price of a mandatory freshman meal plan.

“I probably had 150 of my 227 meals left over at the end of each semester,” he said.

Even taking into account the lower price just four years ago, he paid upward of $11 per meal.

“It wasn’t for stellar service and it wasn’t for good food,” Babcock said.

He isn’t alone. Many students have voiced their dissatisfaction with having to pay for unwanted meals, knowing how much they would need that money later.

Though Metz is not surprised that students are stuck with too many meals, it is reluctant to address the issue, because it counts on that.

“We know that all meals will probably not be eaten,” Mannarelli said. He said if they were, the price of the meal plan would go up considerably.

Mannarelli said that most other foodservice companies operate similarly. He also said recent improvements may justify higher price tags.

Until this year, meals had designated “zones,” meaning that if breakfast ended at 10 a.m. and a student came in at 10:30, he or she would lose a meal.

Now students can use their three swipes at any time of day.

Emily Hruska, a freshman physician assistant major, said she is glad the change occurred prior to her first year at Gannon.

“It’s so convenient to be able to grab a couple of meals at once — something for now and something for later,” she said.

“That way, if the weather’s bad or you have a lot of studying to do, you don’t need to make another trip to get food.”

Mannarelli notes that this new freedom has boosted the number of meals consumed by 5 to 10 percent. Consequently, prices continue to rise.

A number of students wish to share their meals with guests, but such a change would have the same negative impact, as if they ate all the meals themselves.

For the time being, most students — especially upperclassmen — agree that it’s more economical to prepare food on your own.


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