Food prices rise more than expected with Atherton updates

Student Government Association members were told the switch to one, unlimited meal plan option would only result in about a 3-percent change in prices to accommodate inflation. Instead, it increased approximately 6 percent

Sally Click, dean of student services, voiced concerns about last year’s meal plans to SGA, said Katie Cooprider, an SGA representative.

When someone asked how much the price would increase, she remembers Click saying it wouldn’t go up by more than inflation.

Despite the changes in the meal plan options, SGA was not approached about the pricing changes, Cooprider said.

The minutes from the Feb. 15, 2012, meeting when the new meal plan was presented to students, do not say anything about the difference in price.

“They were looking at it to go up by 5 percent,” SGA president Mike Keller said. “I don’t think there was a definitive answer.”

The switch to an all-access meal plan this year is the only option for residents. It includes unlimited swipes and 400 flex dollars. Last year, the unlimited swipe plan included 75 flex dollars.

Last year, the price for the meal plan was $5,410 for the year. This year, it went up to $5,470, said Bruce Arick, vice president for finance and administration.

“I would expect, going forward, it will settle into a more normal increase year to year,” Arick said.

The primary driving forces behind the price increase are the contract with Aramark—which provides the food, labor and cost of the dining facilities—and equipment and maintenance, Arick said.

The negotiations with Aramark were still being dealt with when numbers were presented to SGA, Keller said.

Aramark’s increased prices reflect the increased cost of living for employees and renovations to Butler’s food services.

Click worked with the Butler Cuisine Bureau, a branch of SGA that represents students’ interests in the dining halls.

The Butler Cuisine Bureau is a group of students that formed to address student concerns with dining facilities, Michelle Bryant-Jones, Aramark’s senior food director, said. It usually meets with Aramark once a month.

“If they have issues or suggestions that they want to bring up, they come to us during that period,” she said.

The Cuisine Bureau gives feedback on all dining facilities, including physical changes that need to be made.

“The biggest change we talked about is how we get the students to communicate to us when certain products run out,” Jones said.

The Cuisine Bureau oversaw most of the changes made to the meal plan this year, Click said.

“Food is one of those things  everyone has a particular taste and interest (in),” Arick said. “You’re never going to please everyone.”