Meal Plans at ESU Don’t Add Up for Students

Ready-to-go foods line the refrigerated shelving at center Court. Photo Credit / Jamie Reese

Ready-to-go foods line the refrigerated shelving at center Court.
Photo Credit / Jamie Reese

BY ASHLEY MERTEL – SC Staff Writer

From the price of classes to parking tickets and on campus living, East Stroudsburg University finds plenty of ways to rip students off—but one of the most unnoticed ways is food prices.

While the cafeteria may offer somewhat fair prices (starting at $4.64 at breakfast and going up to $7.30 for dinner), Center Court in the University Center, otherwise known as the Union, charges unfair prices that some students do not even realize they are paying.

Students with an on-campus meal plan are given a certain amount of meals per week (depending on which one they choose at the beginning of the semester), as well as $200 dining dollars that can be spent at the Union. ESU allows students with a meal plan to use a “meal swipe” at the Union, which covers up to $4.55 in food.

The problem with that is, what at the Union is covered by a meal swipe?

The answer: the pizza combo, which includes two slices of pizza and a medium soft drink. That is the only combo covered under a meal. Every other com- bo is over $4.55.

A student has the option of getting a burger, but a side of fries or drink would put the student over the meal limit. A single wrap makes the meal cut at the price of $4.49, but that is all a student gets.

The subs and sandwiches cost between $4.00-$5.19, but again, the student only gets a sandwich for that price.

If students want a fountain drink, they have to pay an additional price. Bottled soda runs at $1.59 and Gatorade at $1.99, which is not bad, compared to grocery store prices.

The biggest rip off of all at the Union is surprisingly the healthiest option: the salad bar.

With the salad bar advertised at $.49 per ounce, students fail to realize they are actually paying $7.84 a pound for their salad.

Students could go to Wawa and pay half of that price for a decent salad. The options at the Union salad bar are not even worth that price. With the sometimes frozen hard-boiled eggs, the cubed ham and turkey, the select vegetable options and the sometimes brown lettuce, students are not paying the price they deserve, especially the students who do not have a meal plan and are paying out of pocket.

The Union does offer prepackaged subs and sandwiches that run from in between $2-$4 price range, but these sandwiches are significantly smaller than the ones made to order.

Yogurt parfaits, soup and macaroni and cheese are also available for the students at a little more of an affordable price but still not worth what the student is paying.

The Union is not the only one ripping off students with high food prices—the Cafeteria’s Late Night is also guilty.

Late Night is open to students from 9 PM to 1 AM, giving them an on-campus food option after the Cafeteria and the Union close.

While students can still use a $4.55 meal swipe, not much is covered under it.

After waiting sometimes up to 25 minutes in line just to order greasy food, students face ridiculous prices. Pizza can cost a student from between $3.99-$4.99, and that is just for an amount equaling about a slice. A pizza combo can cost a student from between $5.39-$6.59, and that only adds a drink.

A sandwich from the grill can range from $4.59-$5.49, with a combo price ranging from $6.99-$7.29.

A fast food meal is cheaper than those prices.

The chicken nugget combo can cost from between $6.99-$8.49. It is outrageous that an on-campus food service would charge students for products with incredibly inflated prices.

There is one place on campus that offers students somewhat fair prices; the only problem is students cannot use their meal plan or flex.

The C-Store (the little convenience store attached to the back of the bookstore) does offer reasonable prices. They offer a breakfast sandwich for $2.99, slices of pizza for $1.59, hot dogs for $1.59, sandwiches for $3.69 and prepackaged salads for $3.50.

Coffee and bottled soda prices are about the same as the Union, although the C-Store offers soup for $1.00, where the Union offers soup for $1.99-$2.59.

Though the C-Store may not have all the options the Union offers, it is the cheaper option for those commuting and those who do not have a meal plan.

Also, Wawa offers reasonable prices that fall in the same range as the Union, if not cheaper.

Still, ESU should be offering students low-cost food options, or at least they should be cutting them a small break in relation to off-campus competitors.

Students pay enough for books, parking and classes; the least of their worries should be how much on-campus lunch will cost.

Email Ashley at: abm3087@live.esu.edu