The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Loyola Dining Services tries keeping costs low, may change in the future

As product prices across the board go up, the price of food at Loyola has remained relatively stable. However, students may soon see the effects hitting their wallets as Dining Services adjusts to the changes.

Those foods that students enjoy consuming most, both off campus and at on-campus eateries like Boulder and Iggy’s, are currently facing declining availability and higher prices throughout the nation, which we will soon see reflected on campus.

Most significantly, meat production worldwide is in a steep decline, largely caused by recent droughts this past summer that seared major livestock production centers across the United States, specifically in the Midwest. According to a recent article in The Los Angeles Times, the 297 million tons of meat on the global market in 2011 was only a 0.8 percent increase over the previous year, in contrast to the 2.6 percent increase seen in 2010.

Produce and other food products too are seeing increasing price tags, due in part to the significant frost throughout California and the West Coast this year, which decreased the amount of crops available to ship throughout the country.

So how and why will all of this affect us at Loyola? Tony Hall, the general manager of Loyola Dining Services, has an explanation. According to Hall, everything is connected, and a change in one seemingly small aspect of the chain that brings food from the field or farm to our tables affects the entire system.

“There’s a government mandate that one-third of the fuel supply in the United States has to have ethanol in it, which is made with corn. Then there was a drought last summer, which pushed the corn prices up,” says Hall. “But they’re still requiring this corn to go in the ethanol, which means there’s a larger supply on it. This also increases the price of gas, which increases the price to move the corn and other foods around. So everything is very connected. When one thing moves, it moves everything.”

It’s a common complaint heard at Loyola: We pay so much for tuition here; our food shouldn’t be as expensive as it is. But, says Hall, it’s not that simple.

To begin, by contract, Loyola Dining Services (run by the international company, Sodexo) is required to pay its employees the living wage, which is between $2 and $5 more than many of their competitors, though Hall sees this as a good thing. “People are all about fair trade,” says Hall, “but what about helping people here locally?” Still, the wages of employees is undoubtedly going to affect food prices.

In the same vein, cashiers at a grocery store ring up, on average, between $1,500 and $2,000 of purchases an hour. Loyola’s volume, in places such as Iggy’s and Boulder, is nowhere near as high as that of grocery stores. Therefore, employees at grocery stores are making about 1 percent of the food they ring up at the register, while Loyola Dining Services has labor costs of closer to 15 or 20 percent, says Hall.

“I limit how often I swipe for food because it’s definitely cheaper buying groceries on my own and making my own food,” says sophomore CamilleBuscar.

“We know we are not a substitute for the grocery store. And we tell students all the time, ‘If you’re going to go on a $150 shopping spree, you should absolutely go to Giant or Safeway. However, if you need peanut butter and bread, there is no way you’re going to save money by getting in your car and going to Giant. Our intention is that people will be doing $15 and $20 shopping trips in Iggy’s, where, when you figure in gas and time, there is no way that it’s cheaper to go to Giant.”

Loyola Dining Services receives no subsidies from the school or tuition dollars; they are their own entity. When students question seemingly high prices inIggy’s and Boulder, though, Hall says there are a variety of factors that must be considered. “We don’t move as much product as a Safeway or aWegman’s,” says Hall. Therefore, Loyola Dining Services buys products in smaller amounts, paying more for each item. “We’re buying it for what they sell it for in the grocery store, and we obviously have other costs,” says Hall.

Junior Chris Carpenter, too, prefers cooking his own food to buying it on campus. “I think as a young adult at Loyola I prefer to cook in my kitchen,” he says. “Iggy’s is a little too pricey for me to eat there regularly and, for me personally, if costs rise and portions are cut I’ll buy even less than I do now.”

“So we start talking about trying to do what we can to mitigate food cost increases, and it’s not as simple as one would think because there’s so many things impacted,” Hall says. “We’re being told that we’re going to see double-digit inflation on food in the next 12 months, so more than a 10 percent increase on almost all food products. The drought last summer affected all the grains, which affected all the proteins, which also affected gas prices. The recent frost in California affected broccoli and several crops, and things just aren’t getting any better when it comes to that.”

Loyola students, says Hall, admit that food is just as expensive off campus, but for some reason, believe that it should be less expensive on campus. Some items, though, make absolutely no profit for Loyola Dining Services, such as Tropicana orange juice and Oreo cookies. According to Hall and Operations Director Gary Gregory, the prices on those items just barely allow Dining Services to break even. “We offer these as a service to students,” says Hall.

Sometimes, though, prices simply have to go up. For instance, the price of Pepsi has gone up twice in the past year. This, in addition to the new Baltimore City bottle tax, caused Loyola Dining Services to increase the price of Pepsi on campus by 9 percent, though even this did not cover the total increase.

There are also many positive aspects to Loyola Dining Services that students often do not see. “We have a very tight supply chain,” says Hall. “Anybody we buy from we have contracts with to inspect their facilities. We do get notices of product recalls that are so timely, we can refuse a shipment of it before it arrives.”

Though it would save students money, Loyola Dining Services is prohibited from using fillers into their food products. “We’re held at such a high standard…another place might start introducing turkey filler into their meatloaf just to get the weight out of it, and we can’t do it,” says Hall. “We say this meatloaf is going to be 100 percent meat.”

At the moment, Loyola students are not seeing any major impact from the issues with food production throughout the country, but it is likely that this will not last for long.

“Right now, we’re kind of taking the hit rather than passing it along to students,” says Hall. “There may be a point in time where we’re gonna go, OK, we just can’t take the hit anymore, we have to pass it along.”

And sophomore Neil Matta echoes what many students on campus hate to be thinking. Matta said, “We can complain about the high prices of food until kingdom come, but we’ll still pay it.”

Any questions about food pricing can be directed to Loyola Dining Services at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Greyhound Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Loyola Dining Services tries keeping costs low, may change in the future