Rising cost of food impacts UK dining expenses

By Kirsten Clancy

This semester students may have to dig deeper in their pockets to bring home the bacon — literally.

Food prices are rising steadily each year, with an average of a 7.5 percent increase over the past year, said Scott Henry, director of UK Dining Services.

Because of these changes, UK is searching for different ways to save money. More products are bought in bulk, and campus restaurants are doing more business with local farmers, Henry said.

“Food is costing more to buy, and we can’t raise prices every day, so we buy bulk or similar items that don’t cost as much,” Henry said.

The increase for some items, especially dairy and protein, are as high as 8 to 12 percent, said Dewitt King, assistant director of Residential Dining.

UK’s food service’s budget allots for 32 percent to buy food and 32 percent for labor, with the rest going toward additional expenses, including indirect expenses, which is money paid to the university to help run services for students and faculty, Henry said.

While Henry said expenses were a factor in the change of meal plan policy and the elimination of trays in campus dining halls, King denied those factors, saying the change of meal plan policy was due to comments by students and parents and the disuse of trays was simply for the environment.

Neither King nor Henry said there were any official complaints because of the changes reported to dining services.

Despite the lack of official complaints, some students are looking for alternative dining options to balance the cost of food on campus.

“At Ovid’s, a sandwich and a bottle of water was seven bucks. Ridiculous,” said Drew Landgrave, a music senior. “I can go to McDonald’s and get a burger for cheaper than that, even though it’s unhealthy.”

Katie Wilder, an education junior, agreed with Landgrave that campus food prices were too expensive, though she said she would rather pack a meal to bring with her.

“I can make my lunch, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and water and a bag of chips, for two or three dollars,” Wilder said.

King said though the cost of food has increased and the student meal plan changed, the price of residential hall meals has decreased. Last semester, a meal at Common’s Market cost $10.35 for lunch and $11.35 for dinner, and now, a meal at Common’s costs $8.55, he said.

A major factor in food costs is high gas prices, King said

“Products cost more to transport, and every area of the food service business wants to make their money back,” said King.

No significant changes should be expected during this school year, Henry said, because food budgets are created during the summer and food service directors have not started discussing next year’s budget yet.

“Each new group of freshmen brings about the need for change,” King said.