Starting Sept. 22, much of the food and beverages sold at Associated Student (AS) Dining Services increased in price for the first time in four years. AS Dining Services, made up of the ASUCD Coffee House, CoHo South Café and CoHo-To-Go Convenience Store, last increased prices in 2010. While certain foods, including yogurt and whole fruits, have remained at the same price, other items have become more expensive. This change is largely due to the increase of California’s minimum wage, which has gone from $8 to $9 per hour. Prices generally increased about 30 to 50 cents per item.
“We’ve been looking at this, probably for the past year, as something on the horizon we would need to address,” said Darin Schluep, food service director of AS Dining Services. “When we first heard of the plan to increase California’s minimum wage, we knew we would have to react to that.”
Schluep says that increasing food prices also played a role in his decision to increase prices at AS Dining Services.
“There are increases in the costs of doing business in food services,” Schluep said. “We are certainly not alone in having to increase prices. We’ve seen a 33 percent increase in poultry prices in the past years; dairy prices have gone up. As [the prices of] some of these staple items have gone up, we can absorb that for a certain amount of time, but we eventually have to change.”
Rachel Pyle, the out-front student manager for AS Dining Services, said she initially felt nervous about the change, but understood the need for the price increase.
“The first time I heard about the plan to adjust prices was at one of our management meetings toward the end of the [last academic year],” Pyle said. “When the causes were all explained (increasing food prices over the last few years and the increase in minimum wage) it all made sense, but naturally I was a little nervous to see customer reactions.”
Some students who frequently buy food from the AS Dining Services were disappointed with the price increase.
“I think the CoHo’s decision to increase prices is unfortunate,” said Zoë Rossman, a second-year evolution, ecology and biodiversity major. “It’s so wonderful to be able to go grab a cheap, good meal between classes. Of course I’ll still go there, but as a student, spending a bit more here and there really does add up.”
While Pyle has seen a few disgruntled customers over the price increase, she believes that business at the AS Dining Services will remain stable.
“The price adjustments are all very minimal, and [as] one of the most inexpensive food establishments on campus… I don’t think the adjustments will have a huge impact on our business,” Pyle said. “Since we are bringing new projects for the fall to offer more variety, I think our business will only increase.”
Schluep said that he hopes that students will understand the reasons behind the price increase and continue buying food through AS Dining Services.
“I’m hoping our customers will understand the situation we’re in,” Schluep said.
Schluep also stresses that he took the students into consideration when making the decision to increase the prices.
“We never do these things lightly,” Schluep said. “We understand that we’re in an environment where everyone’s on a fairly tight budget. We did a lot of research and we feel as though we’ve maintained our status as the least expensive food in town.”