Thursday, January 17th, 2019

The cost of convenience: comparing food costs

Posted on September 22, 2014 in News
By Brian Gordon

Students could save money on food by taking a quick walk to the Back Bay Hannaford, but still some prefer the convenience of on campus dining, like the Luther Bonney cafe and the Woodbury Campus Center cafeteria.

Those that were grabbing lunch in the cafeteria had either meal plans or were just content to shell out a bit more cash. Tai Infinte, a junior biology major, said that he didn’t feel like walking to Hannaford. He thought that his $5.79 large chicken panini sandwich was a “pretty good deal.”

Rion Lister, a senior women and gender studies major, used to work at Hannaford and doesn’t think there are major price differences. Lister also noted that there wasn’t much time in between classes, so he felt grabbing a sandwich or salad at the cafe was more convenient.

Nick Kenney, a junior finance major, was stocking up with a chicken caesar salad, a bowl of noodles and some side items on Tuesday night just before his meal plan was set to expire. He thought that the food was a little expensive but since he has a meal plan, he was putting it to good use.

“[Dinner is] like $15 without the meal plan; I could eat a whole chinese buffet for that,” Kenney said.

Kenney also searched for a few healthy options, noting that the cafeterias have salad but it’s difficult to fill up on. The redundant food options sometimes left him groaning.

“Ugh, not another burger,” said Kenney.

Kenny shared his costly bounty with his friend Jessica Avery, a junior criminology major, who no longer had a meal plan. Avery said that she shops at Hannaford all the time but was perfectly content sharing one of Kenney’s meals.

In the end, they both agreed that it was cheaper to just pack a peanut butter sandwich and plan their meals ahead.

While salads and sandwiches are generally close in price at both campus dining services and Hannaford, fruit, yogurt and granola bars are not. At the Woodbury cafeteria, $1 buys you one banana. At Hannaford, that same dollar will buy you four bananas. For $1.32 you could have three yogurt cups from a variety of different flavors at Hannaford. However at USM, $1.29 gets you one cup. Granola bars are one for a buck at USM, while at Hannaford a box of 12 sets you back $2.79.

Not all students choose between Hannaford or the USM cafes. Noah Codega, a sophomore English major, said that he just eats a big breakfast and then hurries home to eat. “It’s cheaper at home,” said Codega.

Emma Steinbach, a sophomore sociology major, agreed with this sentiment.

“I think it’s [the cafeteria] expensive,” said Steinbach. “I used to have a meal plan but now I’m a commuter so I just go home to eat.”

The food at USM comes from Aramark, a national company that provides food services to hospitals, baseball parks and college campuses nationwide. Chris Kinney, the USM dining general manager, acts as a liaison with Aramark’s Communications Department and had shed some light on why the prices are so high. “The pricing of whole fruits, beverages, chips, candy bars and those types of items are reflective of pricing at convenience stores in the local area.”  They also noted that they weren’t in the business of competing with grocery stores.

Although a students dollar goes further at Hannaford, for most, you just can’t beat the cost of convenience.


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