Letter to the Editor: Are College Food and Snack Options Expensive?

Gah! This cup of grapes costs $10, and it is so small! I can find a large bag of grapes for half the price!”

This is what I saw a student say in the Commons. The general idea of going to college can be too much of a burden on a student’s wallet already. The cost of food alone is a whole other story.

I had to choose a freshman meal plan. The cheapest, the Tiger 10, costs $2,800. I chose the most expensive meal plan — the Tiger 19 — because it was only a $200 difference from the cheapest meal plan, and I’m a hungry college kid. Let me give you an overview of the freshman meal plan: the Tiger 19 offers two to three meals per day, the Tiger 14 offers two meals a day and the Tiger 10 offers one to two meals per day. All meal plans include different amounts of meal exchanges and dining dollars. Other than the meal plans, there are multiple convenience and grocery stores we can shop from, but almost all the prices of the items in these stores are double that of a regular grocery store's.

Many of my friends try not to spend too much money on food on campus because they know it is more expensive than buying the exact same product from a grocery store. I recognized that some of the products I usually buy here with my remaining meal exchanges on Saturdays are almost double the cost of the same product in grocery stores.

Let me give you an example. I usually buy Annie Chun’s noodle bowls at the Corner Store. They cost $4.69 on campus, while they cost around $2.49 in grocery stores near RIT. RIT profits by $2.20.

Another example is Ben & Jerry’s pints. At the Corner Store, they sell one pint for about $6.50, while grocery stores have a wider array of flavors that cost only $4.40 on average. RIT still profits by $2.10.

This next one is going to make you shake to your core. There is a favorite drink I like — Fentiman's Rose Lemonade. It is not easy to find, but Wegman’s and Target sell it. I was thrilled to see that the Global Village Market sold this, but it was around $14 per case, which contains four bottles. At Target, I found the same exact case for $6 — a robbery of $8!

Also, grocery stores will occasionally offer coupons or deals so we can buy more for less. We don’t see any coupons or deals here, and now it’s going to be even more expensive if any grocery store has active offers for products. Many foods and drinks are usually more expensive in stores on campus.

Does RIT not realize that we are college students? College students are usually known for having empty wallets or credit/debit cards with a balance of a few bucks. We are already juggling our student debts, room/board, schoolwork and our lives. Now we have to spend less on food because it costs almost twice here compared to what we see at grocery stores. Can you imagine buying food that’s supposed to help us create healthy eating habits when it’s not affordable? It would be too expensive to have the ideal three meals a day with intervals for snacks.

I pretty much would recommend that you purchase your food off-campus when you plan to go grocery shopping. If you ever do purchase food on campus because it’s convenient, beware: the numbers on the receipt are almost guaranteed to be double the numbers on your receipt from the grocery store, even if you are buying the exact same foods.

I have seen some students choosing junk food because it’s the cheapest they can afford, but it provides little to no nutritional value. Some still eat well but cut out on snacks or reduce their meals per day so that they can afford to eat. We are risking our students’ well-being and ability to function on a school day. Alertness and productivity are important, and lack of good food is reducing students' chances of success.

RIT needs to lower its prices for snacks and food that is not sold at cafeterias because we already pay a lot to be here. If RIT lowers its prices to match the average prices that grocery stores usually offer, you might see students eat better and perform better in school. At the very least, don’t ever buy your grapes at RIT.