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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Usdan prices raised, in line with national trend

Published: September 11, 2009
Section: Front Page

<i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Food prices at the Usdan Café and Boulevard have risen in response to a price analysis conducted over the summer, marking one of several changes to Brandeis dining since regular service resumed last month.

Several items have been affected by the change. A 24 oz. soft drink, which would have cost $1.29 last year, now costs $1.39, A plate of pasta from the Boulevard now costs $4.29, a ten cent increase. The prices for pancakes, salads, and pizza have also increased.

The increases occurred in the aftermath of a complete price analysis conducted by Aramark, the university’s food provider, which took into account competing prices both in the Waltham area and at nearby universities.

“We work[ed] closely with University administration on this subject and [tried] to keep any price increases to a minimum,” Michael Newmark, Director of Dining Services, told The Hoot in an e-mail message. Newmark stressed that the price increases were minimal, and wrote that no price was increased more than 20 cents. Over a hundred items had no cost increase, Newmark wrote.

Despite such assurances, some students have voiced displeasure with the increases.

“If they raise the prices, they should also give us a higher dollar value for meal equivalency. It’s become harder to use meals without going over the limit and using points,” Ben Henig ’12 said.

<i>GRAPHIC BY Andrew Ramirez/The Hoot</i>

GRAPHIC BY Andrew Ramirez/The Hoot

Newmark pointed to new combo meals available at various stations, none of which surpass the lunch equivalency of $7.10, as a solution to this problem.

More items have also been added to the C-Meal program, including additional kosher options. Not all items, however, are included in these combo plans.

Newmark also countered the belief that cost-cutting was behind other changes in Usdan, most notably the decision to transform the staff-run Home Zone into the new Comfort Classics self-serve station. Instead, he said the move was an “operational change” made in order to grant customers “greater flexibility and convenience.”

Brandeis is not the only university affected by rising food costs, as schools nationwide have implemented changes in their dining programs.

Boston College, like Brandeis, has raised prices on select items. Harvard, on the other hand, has completely eliminated pricier items from its dining halls in the last year.

Major universities nationwide, including Louisiana State University, have raised prices of meal plans by nearly seven percent, and according to a study conducted by The Economist, global food prices as a whole have increased over 75 percent since 2005.