Grubhub prices are going up, and the amount of dining dollars students receive is decreasing. COVID-19 has had many impacts on the price of food, including on a college campus. Students were unaware about the incoming increase in food costs until they showed up on the first day of the fall semester.
Since last year, the price of food has not been the only thing that has changed for students living on campus. Students only have two options for dining meal plans, unlike last year when there were three. The elimination of a dining plan as well as the increase in food costs has raised concerns among students on campus.
Michael Cavalieri, the General Manager of the Dining Team has been working for SUNY New Paltz for 11 months and came on board when COVID-19 was a large concern on campus. When asked what has changed since the start of his career he told The Oracle, “Everything.”
The pandemic has disrupted food distribution across the country. While there are issues concerning deliveries and supply chain problems abroad that are affecting the distribution of food on campus, the pandemic has also increased the cost of food in general. According to the USDA Department of Agriculture, the overall price of food has gone up 8.3% since August 2021, not considering specific food items.
Cavalieri expressed that the price of chicken has gone up 42% and the cost of some other goods went up approximately 20-40% depending on the item. “We pay more, you pay more, you know, everything kind of rolls down, right?” he explained.
Isabella Maiorana, a second-year early childhood education major expressed her concerns about the dining on campus. “Sometimes I feel like I am never going to have enough money,” she said. It is already hard to balance my dining dollars.”
There have been changes made to on campus dining plans due to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted. Currently, there are The Carte Blanche Plan (which includes unlimited swipes at Peregrine Dining Hall and $300 worth of dining dollars), the 10 Meal Plan (giving students 10 swipes a week and $1,000 worth of dining dollars a semester). Previously, there was a dining plan called the Freedom Plan that included $1,500 and 10 swipes a week.
The Marketing Specialist, Lauren Kanan, offered an explanation for this change, “They changed the meal plan structure because of COVID. We are reverting to how the plans were pre-COVID.”
Before the pandemic, there were only two dining plans. One was for freshmen and one for upperclassmen. The Freedom Plan was created to accommodate students during the pandemic — but with most pandemic related restrictions now lifted on campus, it’s been eliminated.
Cavalieri expressed that “all the cost rolls over when running a business” referring to the cost of food and the supply chain shortages that affect deliveries and stock.
The company that runs the food services at SUNY universities is called Sodexo, which has a past of overcharging New York schools for food services. In 2010, former Gov. Cuomo and Attorney General Cuomo announced a $20 million settlement for Sodexo overcharging 21 New York school districts and the SUNY system. Even though this did happen in 2010, Sodexo has a past of receiving significant refunds from suppliers without acknowledging or passing savings onto schools, which was violating their contracts with New York schools.
Students’ concerns about the food price increases remain, and the cost of food on campus will remain higher than usual until supply chain issues are resolved. As the country continues to rebound from the pandemic, students can hope that in the future prices will change for the better.