Food prices are one of the most debated topics of our time—or at least, on our campus. Everyone’s got an opinion. Most folks say that campus food prices are way too high, while repeatedly getting back into the line of one of the three decent food places we have. So, obviously, I’m writing this article to talk about how atrocious campus food prices are, right?
In relation to the cost of food everywhere else, I think food prices on campus are quite reasonable. They may even be cheaper than the standard. It may be surprising, but I’ve found that the prices are virtually identical between places both on- and off- campus. Comparing branded fast-food menus was easy, but some of the non-branded food—a tuna sandwich for example—took a little more work. I bought the ingredients required to make a sandwich identical to the ones sold in the Davis food court and found it actually costs more to make one than to just buy one—not including the time I put into making it. Campus food isn’t actually that expensive when compared to eating off-campus.
Despite this, no matter who I ask about food prices, everyone seems to agree that campus food prices are way too high, and that the University of Toronto Mississauga can’t keep getting away with their blatant daylight robberies. What causes this disparity between reality and public sentiment? I think the reason for this idea, and the crux of this whole debate, lies not in whether campus food is expensive. It is the simple fact that eating well has become costly. The amount of good food you can buy with a set amount of money has vastly decreased over the years. Even making a simple salad cost twice as much as it used to. Food, in general, has become too expensive for your average university student, who is both low in income and high in nutritional needs. Most students I spoke to have a full course load and a long day of commuting to with no time to find a part-time job. Purchasing meals every single day, even if those meals are only ten dollars, is bad for our health and for our wallets. Simply giving up on campus food altogether and packing a lunch won’t solve this either. It costs the exact same, just in different ways. Somebody has to pay, and that’s the whole problem.
For something that’s so vital to our survival, food requires far too much effort to “earn.” These are not luxuries; these are needs. There should never be a situation in which a person cannot eat or drink because they cannot pay.
So, are campus food prices too expensive? It depends on your perspective. You could argue no, since everywhere else is just as expensive. But you could also argue yes, because something so essential to life shouldn’t be so unattainable, and because people should be able to eat good food without being locked behind a paywall they might not be able to climb. People deserve to eat healthy food without breaking the bank.