Staff Editorial

Meal plans have experienced a few changes for next year, one of which is an increase in price. While at first this may seem reasonable since tuition increases every year, one might wonder why the price of our meal plans should go up if the quality of food has improved only marginally. Why are we paying so much for food when other colleges, such as St. Olaf and Carleton, are not?
A little research shows us that St. Olaf’s full board plan actually costs less per meal than our full board plan. The most upsetting part of this comparison is that St. Olaf’s catering service, Bon Appetit, was ranked third best in the nation in 2005. Also, St. Olaf’s full board plan offers students 21 meals per week while we only get 16 – Lawrentians are not offered a plan that allows us to eat every meal that Dining Services provides. Comparably, Carleton, who uses Sodexho, charges less per meal than both Lawrence and St. Olaf. Ultimately St. Olaf and Carleton students pay more for board, but they have the ability to purchase more meals per week and they get more for their money. For example, St. Olaf’s catering service, in addition to being lauded across the country for its quality, purchases seasonal and locally grown food, purchases from companies that do not violate the rights of farmers and farm workers, is moving toward only purchasing hormone-free meat from companies that use minimal antibiotics, and buys only wild-caught salmon. All the bread that Carleton serves is organic and made on-site, and they use vendors from the Food Alliance Midwest to purchase local and sustainably grown food. Traditionally, organic, free-range and locally produced food comes with a heftier price tag than foods of the factory-farmed variety – and it is here one becomes curious as to how their meals average out to less than those at Lawrence.
Rumor has it that with the addition of the new campus center our food service is going to experience a major change. If this is true, Dining Services should take the time to look at other schools and see what they have to offer, in both quality and sustainability, and at what prices.