Not enough dough Balancing a student budget with rising food prices on campus

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By: Jordan Graber

Nutrition and finances are a few of the concerns at the forefront of many university students’ minds as they go through their years in post secondary. Staying healthy while juggling a heavy schedule of obligations and responsibilities is a difficult task on its own, let alone having to stress over your food finances. At McMaster, the food options and venues do not live up to the prices.

Despite the variety of small restaurants, there is little diversity in the options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are a few different types of cuisine, and if one doesn’t enjoy a certain type or needs to meet certain dietary restrictions, it cuts the choices significantly.

In addition, the menus don’t change to meet these needs, though the charges do. This makes things difficult for the picky eaters of the world, along with those who live with dietary restrictions or different eating habits.

I often feel that I’m stuck eating the same things repeatedly, and healthy snacks and meals are somewhat lacking, in that there don’t seem to be a large variety of options for affordable options. Prices have risen substantially over the years in the on-campus restaurants such as East Meets West Bistro. These combinations make options extremely limited and add extra stress for students who have financial concerns.

For students who have meal plans and rely on campus food for their meals, the options need to be better assessed to cater to diverse needs. With the high demand for quality dishes, rising prices of food, profit, facilities and labour, meal prices rise almost each year. This leaves post-secondary students paying anywhere from $9 to $20 or more for meals at university, while the average person living at home would pay much less than that.

With cost concerns like books, tuition and rent, it is unfortunate that something that is so vital to our health costs so much on campus. As I mentioned earlier, this issue causes a lot of stress to students who are struggling with the financial burdens of post-secondary education, and often more so to those who are just starting out in university, or those who are living off campus.

For students who are working to pay for school, it shouldn’t be an issue to think about whether they can afford a meal. This can lead to both physical and mental strains that are ultimately too much for students to bear.

Thankfully, McMaster Students Union presidential election brought forth a leader looking to help students out with their food finances. Ikram Farah, our MSU president-elect, intends to save students money by making all food supplied by McMaster Hospitality Services tax-free every Tuesday. Farah also plans to work with Bridges to bring healthier options to the other restaurants around campus.

These projects are not enough to offset the rising prices of food, but it would be a step towards change. Accessing food shouldn’t be as stressful as covering tuition fees or other costs, and choices should be made to counteract the unfair prices at Mac.

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