Food Prices

Craig Couden , Co-Editor, Craig Couden, Co-Editor, and Craig Couden, Co-Editor

Beginning this semester, Fresh and Natural reduced operational hours and increased some menu prices in an attempt to offset rising food costs and remain financially viable on campus.

“We got together with the administration and we asked them what would be appropriate,” said Josh Kang, Fresh & Natural’s general manager for the Santa Rosa campus.

Kang and the Fresh & Natural management team met with SRJC officials to discuss ways to save money. According to their contract, Fresh & Natural can approach the district with changes twice per year, in April and November. It was the first request for price increases in 18 months.

The price of coffee was one of the highest increases, going up by 10 percent. Coffee prices have increased worldwide, and with the increased cost of shipping, gas and transportation, the cost to SRJC’s supplier, Peet’s Coffee, has gone up as much as 40 percent, Kang said.

“One of the things that has been a concern is that Fresh & Natural, at the very least, covers their costs,” said Doug Roberts, vice president of Business Services. “If they are running in the red, they will not stay here. One of the district’s concerns is that we have food service, not only here at Santa Rosa Junior College, but at Petaluma as well. It was pretty obvious from their profit and loss statements that they were still operating in the red and had come to the district to try to come up with a way to make this work.”

Yogurt parfaits and fruit cups increased around 10 percent, while hot breakfast items saw no change. The salad bar increased from 35 cents per ounce to 38 cents, deli sandwiches made to order went from $4.50 to $4.95 and grab-and-go sandwiches increased by 25 cents, according to Roberts. New menu items, like quesadillas, and daily specials increased as well. However, at the request of Associated Students, meal items for under $5 are still available, and Fresh & Natural is continuing to work towards sustainability.

In addition to raising prices, Fresh & Natural also trimmed hours from the Kiosks at Bailey Field, Barnett Hall and the Library cafe by one hour, and the kiosk at Emeritus is now open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to both Roberts and Kang, operational hours were cut during the least busy times.

“Hardly anybody was coming,” Roberts said.

SRJC also instituted a $3.50 minimum for credit card purchases that includes food services and the bookstore. Prior to the minimums, Fresh & Natural would lose money on smaller transactions, like buying a single banana with a credit card, because the credit card fee cut into the profit on the sale, Roberts said.

Finally, both Fresh & Natural and the district reduced the commissions they receive from food sales as another cost-cutting measure. Instead of rent, the district receives a commission, which goes towards facility maintenance and extra funding to the school. It’s difficult to cut any revenue source with the current and looming budget worries, but the district wanted to minimize the effect on students, Roberts said.