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Food Prices: Save your wallet

By Nicholas Zarzeczny and Kirk Datz in Opinions

March 1, 2012


Food prices at Lock Haven University are like gas prices in the real world: they keep rising. A freshman of 2011 cannot see the rising prices from one semester to the next, but those of us who have been here can.

Within three years, we saw the prices of Lower Bentley meals go from roughly from $3.60 to over $5.00. Sadly, that is even being generous because some meal choices here are over $6.00.

As a college student, questions are being raised where we may never get the answers: “Why the price hike within three years?”, “Who’s benefiting from these higher prices?”, or (my favorite) “Who does it affect the most?” This article is to raise awareness of these secretly lurking issues.

To fully understand the situation, it’s probably best to break down and explain the Lock Haven University meal system. At the beginning of each semester, we are given a choice of what plan we want. These plans range from a 75 block meal plan including $200 flex to a 19 meal per week plan including $200 flex. The costs range from $936 to $1,608 respectively. For those of you who don’t know what ‘flex’ is, it is similar to Penn State’s Lionscash; it acts as a reserve for extra spending. Each meal in our meal plan is called a ‘meal swipe’. So if one would get lunch they have to use a meal swipe to buy that meal. A meal is defined by tradition of a main dish, a side, and a 22oz drink. At Lower Bentley, this normally translates to a sandwich, fries, and 22oz soda. Now keep in mind that each meal swipe is $4.60 because this is where the dilemma lies.

Originally, the price of a meal was low enough for a meal swipe to cover the cost of that meal. However the last couple of years have proven that our meal swipe no longer covers the cost of a meal; it roughly covers half of what a meal costs. So in other words, our weekly meals and our $200 flex account has now become a hybrid system of buying meals: one meal swipe covering half of the meal and the flex covering the rest.

Most students fail to realize we are affected by this because being this early in the semester we still have enough flex money to cover the costs. Be we are missing the bigger picture. We are being forced to use our flex to cover the other half of the meal. Our $200 account balance that was once used for extra spending or a reserve is now running away quicker than ever before.

Here is the research aspect of this scary issue. The chart you see compares Lock Haven University’s Lower Bentley prices to other fast food prices right in Lock Haven’s town.

Still keeping in mind that each meal swipe is $4.60, let’s look at an example. Let’s say I’m hungry and want something substantial to appease my hunger. I could get a LaBreadi, which is an Italian style wrap, for $6.39. This sandwich would include one meat of my choosing, all the veggies I want, and a dressing to spicen up the flavor. Then let’s say I want a drink and a side. With the LaBreadi, these are extra. So a 22oz drink will be rung up as $1.59 and chips for $1.09. This whole meal so far comes out to $9.07.

As testimony, I personally saw someone get this meal. I saw that they had a meal plan, and used their meal swipe. The price was then dropped to $4.47 because of their ‘swipe’. They still had to pay for that meal. That $4.47 was automatically taken from the flex account. If this amount of money is taken from the account each day, students will only have roughly 20 days before the account hits $100 and likewise 40 days till it hits rock bottom (simple math). We have exactly 107 days before the semester is done. Forty days compared to a total of 107 should have a major perspective of how liquid our flex account has become. We can even adjust it and pretend the student goes home over the weekend. That is still only 75 days. This is forcing us to pay more out of our pockets to make up for the extra cost. The kicker is that we had already bought a meal plan that should cover those costs.

This article should have hit a nerve by now: students and parents alike. So I challenge students today to create more awareness of this issue on our campus. Administration and the managers of Bentley need to know we are not naïve of this issue so they change these prices. If it’s a revenue issue, they should find a different way to make revenue and lower the prices back to where they were originally. If it’s due to State policy, they could negotiate with the State about this issue due to the unrest with the student body. If it’s a business negotiation, they should find a different way to cover the cost of buying the food. As for that last decision, the University needs to charge more than what the meal costs to make a profit. However, the last time I checked bread, meat, and a couple tomatoes doesn’t cost over $3.

The bottom line is that if these prices stay the way they are or slowly keep rising, even if it’s a few cents, over time, it is forcing us to pay more out of our pockets. Tuition, fees, prices of books, loan payments, and interest is more than enough money to be dishing out as it is. Do the right the thing; make a statement for change to save our wallets.

 Location:  Lock Haven University   McDonalds 
 Meal Choice  Combo  Sandwich  Meal:  Combo  Single
     Crispy Chicken Sandwich  $6.49  $4.39  Big Mac  $5.89  $3.89
     Cheeseburger  $5.69  $3.49  Quarter Pounder  $5.69  $3.49
     Philly Cheesesteak  $6.89  $5.19  Double Quarter Pounder  $6.19  $4.89
     Grilled Chicken Sandwich  $6.49  $4.40  Double Cheeseburger  $4.99  
     Bacon Cheese Burger  $6.19  $3.74      +Cheese  $0.99  
     3pc Chicken Tenders  $6.59  $4.29  Chicken BLT  $6.69  $4.59
 Miscellanceous:  Single    Club Chicken  $6.89  $4.79
     Mozzarella Sticks  $4.29    Classic Chicken  $5.79  $3.69
     Onion Rings  $1.99    Southern Style Cheese  $5.59  $3.49
     6pc Chicken Tenders  $3.29    Chicken Select:    
     Grilled Cheese Sandwich  $6.29        $5.99
     Malibu Vegtable Burger  $4.19        $7.29
     Hot Dog  $1.99        $3.89
     LaBreadi  $6.39    10pc Chicken Nuggets  $6.49  $4.39
 Wraps:      Fillet O’ Fish  $5.79  $3.69
      Selection of 8 Different
Wraps each at:
 $5.29    Angus Deluxe  $6.09  $3.99
 Wings:      Angus Deluxe with Cheese  $6.89  $3.88
     6pc Wings  $4.99    Angus Mushroom and Swiss  $6.09  $3.99
     12pc Wings  $7.99        
     18pc Wings  $10.99        
     A-1 Double Burger  $5.49        
     Cheese Burger
+ 44oz Drink
     Small  $2.39        
     Large  $2.99        
     Bread Bowl  $3.49        
     Bread Bowl w/out Soup  $1.39        
     Pretzel  $1.79        
       + Cheese  $0.99        
     Extra Dressing:          
          Ranch or Bleu Cheese  $0.99        
     Extra Carrot or Celery  $0.99        
     + Curly Fries  $0.20        
     Make it a large combo  $0.59        
     22oz  $1.59        
 Sides:  Regular  Large      
     Curly Fries  $1.89  $2.29      
     Regular Fries  $1.59  $2.09      
 Wendys   Dunkin Donuts 
 Meal:  Combo  Sandwich  Meal:  Combo  Single
 CheeseBurger:      2 Donuts    $3.24
 CheeseBurger  $5.79  $3.68  Muffin    $2.99
 Double CheeseBurger  $6.39  $4.79  Begal    $3.79
 Triple CheeseBurger  $7.39  $5.49  Sauge, Egg, and Cheese    $4.89
 BaconCheese:      Bacon, Egg, and Cheese    $4.89
 Baconator  $5.99  $3.99  Egg White Flat    $4.89
 BaconDeluxe  $6.49  $4.39  Ham, Egg, and Cheese    $4.89
 The CheeseBurger  $4.99  $2.99  Egg and Toast    $5.29
 Chicken:      Wake up Wrap    $3.13
     Spicy Chicken Fillet  $6.29  $4.29  3 Sausage Pancake Bite    $3.13
     Homestyle Chicken Fillet  $6.29  $4.29  Grilled Cheese    $3.89
     Asiago Ranch Chicken Club  $6.89  $4.89  Ham and Cheese    $4.78
     Walnut Chicken Clug  $6.49  $4.49  Turkey Cheddar Bacon    $4.78
     10pc Chicken Nugget  $4.99    Tuna Salad    $4.68
 Make it a combo:      Chicken Salad    $4.78
    1 Side (fries, small
salad, or small desert)
     Tuna Melt    $4.98
   Medium  Large  W/combo:    
    1 Drink  $1.49  $1.89      Iced Tea:    
           Medium  $0.30  
           Large  $0.40  
       or Coffee    
           Iced Coffee  $0.20  
           Medium  $0.30  
           Large  $0.40  
 Meal:  Ft. Long  6-In
 Regular Ft. Long  $5.00  $3.50
 Oven Roasted Chicken Ft. Long  $5.25  $3.75
 Other Ft. Long  $6.00  $4.00
 Special Ft. Long  $6.25  $4.50
 Philly CheeseSteak  $8.00  $5.00
 Add Value Meal:    
      -Add    $2.20
 21oz drink    
     2 Cookies    
 or Sliced Apples    

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