EWU Union Market prices cause concern among students

Picure+of+the+EWU+Union+Market.

Drew Lawson

Picure of the EWU Union Market.

By Star Dragon, News Reporter

EWU students with a gold meal plan will spend about $5,200 in one year. EWU Dining Services makes 58% of their income through meal plans.

The per capita income in 2018 for Spokane County was $29,982 according to the United States census. The census also shows that the overall United States per capita income is about $33,000. This means that Spokane County was below the national average.

If a student in Spokane County is in a one parent household and has a gold meal plan, this would be about 17% of their parent’s annual average income, on average.

EWU has many food options and locations across campus including: Union Market, The Roost, Panda Express, Main Street Dining, Global Cuisine, Freshens, Elm St. Espresso, Einstein Bros. Bagels and the EWU Eagle Store Cafe. While the pricing at all of these locations is different, students have had complaints about the pricing of food in general at EWU.

EWU student Chris Po was asked what he thought about the pricing of food at EWU.

“Well I think it’s ridiculous,” said Po. “My first quarter here was at Tawanka and directly after that was the PUB which was interesting because the first quarter I actually had more than enough money to get myself through on a bronze plan. But on a bronze plan in winter quarter directly after that when the PUB opened, I was gouged. I didn’t have anything.”

“But on a bronze plan in winter quarter directly after that when the PUB opened, I was gouged. I didn’t have anything.” -Chris Po, EWU student

“I think that they should have a better selection of fruits and veggies and have them not be extremely expensive,” said Jaiden Haley, referring to the Union Market.

“My opinion is everything is overpriced and has gone up when the quality is just going down,” said Alexander Brooks.

“When I lived on campus I shopped there (Union Market) because of convenience and because I didn’t want to walk to Safeway,” Ayla Jessop said.

Even with all of these complaints, EWU Dining and Catering Services still makes 24.5% of their revenue from retail sales, according to EWU Dining and Catering Services.

Dave McKay, Dining Services director, said labor expense is 46% of Dining Services expenses and food cost is 37%. He said about six years ago, these percentages were almost completely flipped.

“We were able to spend more on our food, which meant food cost was a little lower to people but as labor has come up that 40-41% increase to minimum wage over the last five years is why our food cost keep going up,”McKay said. “We’re (Dining Services) one of the few places you can control your cost a little bit and it’s also one of the few places that you see what it costs every time you do it.”

“When I lived on campus I shopped there (Union Market) because of convenience and because I didn’t want to walk to Safeway,” -Ayla Jessop, EWU Student

“I think that the biggest illusion is that we are a separate entity on campus,” McKay said. “Our only purpose is really to just take care of students the best we can. I really can’t apologize that food costs money because it does.”

Below are seven randomly selected items at the Union Market, with a price comparison to Safeway. (Safeway was chosen due to students saying they shop there frequently when interviewed.) If a student finds that they do not like a meal plan they can change it. About 13% of students with meal plans change their plan each quarter according to dining and catering services.

In 2018, The Easterner addressed a topic not so often talked about: food insecurity. The article, titled, “EWU addresses food insecurity with new pantries showed that in 2016, “71 percent of EWU students know someone who does not have enough food and 33 percent of EWU students have run out of food at some point.”

To combat food insecurity EWU has a central food pantry and seven food cabinets across campus. The food pantry is located in Tawanka at 129E and has fresh produce, dairy, meat, eggs, non-perishable food items and hygiene products. The seven cabinets are located in Showalter Hall, Sutton Hall, JFK Library, P.E. Building, the PUB, the URC and Isle Hall. The cabinets contain non-perishable food items and hygiene products. •