Assistant News Editor
UNC Asheville students complain prices for on-campus food items are priced too high in comparison to off-campus locations.
“Considering the quality of the food served while excluding the brand name items available on the shelves, it’s definitely high,” said Ryan Carter, a sophomore student from Daytona Beach.
A price comparison chart was created after visiting one on-campus location and three off-campus locations: CVS, Ingles, Target and UNCA’s Down Under or “Dunder.”
The prices of Kind Bars, Gatorade, Pop-Tarts, Yoplait yogurt, Starbucks Frappuccino, Lunchables, Nabisco Go-Paks! and a 20 ounce soda from each location were documented in the chart.
The total cost for the following items purchased at Dunder before tax was $19.22 and $20.89 after tax. This amount included the purchase of an individual Pop-Tart rather than a box of 6. The total cost of items purchased at the three off-campus locations before tax was $16.63 at Target, $17.18 at Ingles and $12.33 at CVS.
All of the items were found at both Dunder and Target. Ingles did not sell Kind Bars and CVS did not sell Yoplait yogurt, Lunchables or Nabisco Go-Paks! In addition to the price differences, Ingles and Target only sold 20 ounce Gatorade in bundles of 8.
After looking at the food comparison chart, Ryan Carter said convenience is what the customers are paying for.
“The chart is undeniably true, but you’re really paying for the convenience when you go to Dunder. People living in Overlook don’t have to even leave the building to access these items, and other buildings are just next door,” Carter said. “Compared to having to leave campus and all that jazz, it simply saves time to go to Dunder or Highsmith.”
Abby Powell, a junior student, said the voice of the financial pricing is determined by those who have a monopoly on the campus’ food service.
“I don’t think there is any one person who is specifically at blame for the high prices,” Powell said. “But I do think those who have a monopoly on our food service, such as Chartwells, has the ultimate say.”
Nancy Yeager, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs Administration, said in an email that Chartwells reviews prices annually and sets prices based on the purchasing cost Chartwells is able to obtain.
“Retail prices are reviewed by the university and Chartwells together on an annual basis. In general, pricing is competitive with convenience store prices available in the community off-campus,” Yeager said via email. “These retail outlets are not large grocery stores, so the pricing for items is based on the purchasing costs that Chartwells is able to obtain.”
Yeager also said the annual review compares retail prices of nearby off-campus locations.
“The annual review of retail prices includes a review of the consumer price index (CPI) and a market basket analysis, which includes comparisons by product with multiple convenience stores near campus,” Yeager said via email. “For this reason, pricing is determined only for UNCA.”
Powell said the prices found in Dunder and Highsmith discourage her and she would rather shop off-campus to purchase food items.
“The prices in Dunder and Highsmith are discouraging especially when I have the time and ability to go out to somewhere cheaper and get my items there,” Powell said. “But to a freshman, or those without car, what you see is what you get and I hate that.”
Carter said the prices in Dunder and Highsmith did not discourage him, since he used his declining balance (DB) to purchase items.
“The prices are most definitely high,” Carter said. “I will still purchase my food at these locations because declining balance is super easy to spend and I don’t want to have any DB left over.”