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The Editor’s Desk: The premium cost of eating on-campus

Published: November 4, 2011
Section: Opinions, Top Stories


The numbers speak for themselves: The costs of basic food items in the Usdan convenience store are nothing short of outrageous. Simply by purchasing food and convenience items on-campus, students pay far more than they do at the local Hannaford supermarket.

But that’s only the start. Many items are poorly marked and unit pricing is unavailable, making price comparisons difficult.

For students on meal plans, the cost of basic items is even more steep. This discrepancy is best seen in the $1,400 per semester points plan. The plan costs $2,669, meaning that each point is equivalent to almost $2. While the meal plan pays for more than just food, including the high costs of running campus dining halls, the highly inflated costs of basic food items exacerbates the lack of parity between dollars and points.

The high cost of food at Brandeis never bothered me in the past. But some weeks back, I went to the convenience store to purchase a drink and a yogurt, and the price came out to nearly $5. For around $5 at Dunkin Donuts, I’d be able to get a much larger drink, a bagel with cream cheese and a donut. For $5 at Hannaford, I would at least be able to purchase two drinks and two yogurts.

Below is a sampling of items and their costs both on-campus and off-campus, as well as the percent price increase for eating on-campus. The items have been randomly selected from those available in the C–Store.

I suspect that students will not be surprised by the sampling of food prices shown below. The same cannot be said of community members­—whether parents, staff or visitors—especially those who have never shopped in our on-campus convenience store.

And likely, after reading this page, they will take their business elsewhere. Unfortunately, students on meal plans just don’t have that luxury.