“INCREASE IN PRICES WAS UNAVOIDABLE”- SAYS ‘CAFE’ MANAGER
Photo: Photograph of Sorenson Hall “Cafe”- NCU’s main food source for students, workers and visitors on the campus.
Photo Credit: Jermilee Morrison
By: Chantae McNeil
The cafeteria price increase at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) is unavoidable, said manager of the institution’s dining hall Mcziffon Marstin in a recent interview with the Hilltop Trumpet.
Following the recent announcement about Sorenson Hall increasing food prices effective Monday, September 13, 2021, Marstin said the price increase is due to losses they have experienced over the years.
He added that the price change has not been made or approved since 2016, hence the change is necessary and still will not be able to compensate for the losses they have experienced.
“You know how much millions we lost over that period? Billions! In order to survive we had to do something. Everybody has to get paid, so it was difficult to not have an increase in prices,” he said.
The manager added that students can try to balance their spending by purchasing other products the cafeteria provides, noting that it is not advisable to have a heavy meal every day.
“You still have stuff that are affordable. You have pastries and all the other stuff so you still have the option of buying something lighter, but you can’t say that we’re not supposed to have a raise overall,” he said.
When the Hilltop Trumpet spoke with different residents of the Leila Reid Hall dormitory, many of them had mixed feelings about the new food prices, and one student in particular said it is “foolishness.”
“It’s foolishness. My meal plan might only last me for half the semester now. I have been dreading to go up there (cafeteria), because I’m trying to conserve, so I’ve been cooking and using up the food that I got from home before I have to resort to cafe,” said the student who asked to go unnamed.
Abigale Brown, another resident, shared that they understand and cannot blame the department for its recent changes, and though it hasn’t affected them much, they would like to see improvements in the quality and quantity of the food.
“My biggest concern isn’t the price, but rather the quality and quantity of the food. The food tastes pretty bad. I spend so much money and what I get is undercooked, unseasoned and to add to this, the portions are very small,” she said.
When asked if there can be any changes made to the quantity of food provided at the cafeteria, Marstin noted that there can be changes made to the servings of carbohydrates, but not necessarily the protein.
“Maybe like the rice, since it’s a local factor, maybe you can add more, but you can’t add much more protein … when you compare the price of vegetarian protein, when compared to the regular protein in a lot of cases they are more expensive,” he said.
The Hilltop Trumpet asked Marstin to share his views on students’ alternative option to buy food elsewhere, to which he noted that that’s their choice.
“The prices are high out there as everywhere else. The choice is theirs (students). Even if students stop buying, it’s better we just close than have the business operating at a loss,” he said.
The United Student Movement (USM) conducted a meeting with the respective representative from the University Business and Stores, which resulted in proposals for food quality improvement, having a staggered increase of meal prices, and an agreement made for presentation to be done for students to understand the necessity for the price changes.
The USM has also considered other ways to assist students in affording the price increase.