OPINION: Is food service price increase warranted?

After the 2017-2018 school year, the price for chicken tenders and fries, a lunch staple at Verbum Dei, was increased from $4 to $4.50, not including a drink. With a drink, a student would be looking at a total of around $5 or more, depending on the drink.

After approximately 10 years of service, the former chef Junior McFarlane, Jr. was replaced.  Administration felt like he was not providing  proper, nutritional food.

The VDHS administration found a new vendor in 2016-2017, but the new provider’s tenure was short-lived.  After that year,  the vendor did not come back.

“The vendor felt like they couldn’t make money” stated Jeff Bonino-Britsch, who not only manages food services, but is also Vice President of Operations at VDHS.  This was their stated reason for leaving.  Bonino-Britsch has a point, food vendors need to make a profit in order to survive.

“The hard part about maintaining the food service is having to pay the workers to come and help us serve the students faster,” stated Rosario Hernandez, food service worker.

VDHS administration had to find a new food provider, so it met with multiple vendors. “We brought in ambassadors to taste the food [before a vendor was hired],” stated Bonino-Britsch.

The selected vendor was the same group who provided food for Verb’s sister school, Saint Mary’s Academy in Inglewood.  The new vendor was hired, and the price for chicken tenders and fries was set at $4.  However, the start of the 2018-2019 school year brought about new price changes.

Currently, the price for chicken tenders and fries stands at $4.50.  In comparison, when McFarland was the lunch provider, a meal of chicken tenders, fries, and a drink was $4.  The price increase has brought about some negative feedback from students.

“The food prices are too high; the lunch special is $5, and the chicken and fries are $4.50,” said senior Christian Aguilar.  Christian Aguilar said some students choose to bring lunch from home. The issue is that many students may not have the chance to bring their lunch, so they either have a choice of buying overpriced lunch or of doing without.  Another alternative to buying lunch is to buy breakfast. The sausage and bacon burritos along with croissants have not changed in price; they have remained $3.

“Sometimes, the special [portions] are really small, and sometimes it isn’t worth the full $5,” commented senor Clifton Dutton.

“Three dollars isn’t worth buying a burger,” said freshman Victor Miranda.  “The food is okay, but the price is too high.”

Students are still able to buy small snacks like cookies, chips, and ice cream for $1; these prices have not increased over the year.  Although students may have alternatives to buying lunch, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the price of food is too high for what it’s worth. In contrast, $1 at McDonalds can get one a McChicken sandwich, a 4-piece serving of chicken nuggets, or a cheeseburger.

“They can keep prices at a reasonable rate without going out of business,” Bonino-Britsch said.  The prices, to some, have become unreasonable. How is it that McFarland charged $4 for the chicken tender and fries meal with a drink and maintained a strong consumer base, yet the current vendors had to increase the price of the same meal without including a drink?

It is understandable that a business needs to make profit in order to survive, yet one observation of the lunch line shows a swarm of student customers flocking to the line as soon as the bell rings for either break or lunch. It makes one think, why is there a need to mark up prices to make a profit?

Observation reveals that the vendor has a large market who buy its products.  Before we  protest the food price increase, we have to take into consideration that the vendors do not raise prices as a way to punish the students. These vendors are actually nice people.

“I feel bad that we have to increase the prices,” said Hernandez. They vendor is open to reconsidering the food price structure.  “If you guys do have a problem with the food price being too high, I have no problem with you guys telling me that it is,” said Hernandez.

The prices are upsetting, and some people want them to change, but the only way to see that change is to let the vendor’s staff know that the prices seem a little high. Apparently, the vendor is open to all ideas; they are not the type of providers that do not care about their customers. They do care –  so much so that they offer to give food to a student if he doesn’t have the money to buy food that day (as long he pays it back).

Every problem always has a solution.

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