Food court pain

Denny is in the house — yea!  And, what a welcome addition to the UC food court “he” is.  Indeed, one of the services provided by universities, and most valued by students, is — yep, you just know it’s true — food.  And, the better the food — the happier the student is.  Although, if the allure of the good food at NSU is sullied by not-so-cool menu prices, then we’re just not going to be as happy as we could be about the whole affair.

Honestly, with several tenures at various colleges throughout my life and across the country, I can tell you that NSU really has it going on in terms of food courts strategically located around the campus and actually serving up some pretty good grub.  We should all consider ourselves pretty darned fortunate in this respect.  Many college students across the U.S. are subjected daily to the same swill to which we grew accustomed back in high school.  You remember don’t you — those “delectable delights” found only in secondary school cafeterias?  Dishes with obscure names like “chili mac;” or American standards like franks ‘n’ beans; or that shameful representation of spaghetti and meatballs we all grew to know and “love.”  Then, there was always something remotely resembling chicken soup, or those miserable excuses for pizza.  And, let us not forget the ever-so-timeless favorite…“chef’s surprise” (whatever that was).  So yeah, we’ve got some real decent chow right here at NSU to tickle our taste buds.  If for no other reason, I’m damn proud to be a student here simply because of the food!

The thing that strikes me as just a little out of sync, and seems to replace the pain of the less–than–palatable food that we all suffered in high school, and other college campuses, with a brand new style of pain — are the prices.  At the least, when we were choking down the aforementioned cafeteria swill, the vendors appeared to attempt to ease our pain by selling their slop at prices comparable to the quality of the fare.

Now, I haven’t done a whole lot of distinctive due diligence on this; however, you can trust me when I tell you that I have been eating at restaurants for a really long time, as I am twice the age of most NSU students.  Denny’s has always been a personal favorite of mine — ya just gotta love that Grand Slam.  As well, I’ve patronized countless Starbucks, Einstein Bros., and convenience store sandwich coolers.  And, near as I can determine, the prices we’re subjected to at the campus food outlets do compete pretty darn well with the prices we encounter beyond the campus driveway.  And, something about this just smells a little ripe to me.

We can be relatively certain that there is quite a process that restaurants must navigate in order to win a contract at universities.  I highly doubt that it’s all as easy as knocking on the door and declaring “Hey, we’re ready to serve your students!” and then rolling up the roach-coach to the sidewalk.  I mean, every one of these restaurants has a captive audience — and a pretty large one at that — of students with money to burn on their account cards and everyone working up a pretty good appetite all day long and well into the night.  Thousands upon thousands of students, faculty, and staff are roaming these grounds every day of every week.  That’s some pretty decent guaranteed walk-in business for these companies.  These outfits are pretty much guaranteed excellent business and profits as long as their doors are open and they have food to sell.

So, what’s with these pricing structures? Shouldn’t we be getting a little bit of a break around here?  The fact that the greater proportion of their business is coming from students who are broke, coupled with the fact that we really have no other place to go, given our time constraints between classes, seems to render the pricing at the outlets just a tad bit unjust.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do appreciate the quality and variety of our available food supplies at NSU.  However, given the context, it just seems to me that we all might be getting taken to the cleaners at the register when we pay for our meals.

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