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Volume 71, Issue 12, Wednesday, September 7, 2005

News

Aramark keeps prices competitive

Some items more expensive than previous years, others a little cheaper

By Jessica Robertson
Senior Staff Writer

Buying food on campus may seem expensive to some students, but the campus's new food service provider Aramark has prices consistent to many local restaurants and convenience stores, Director of Auxiliary Services Ann Lamar said. 

Aramark officially replaced Chartwells as UH's food service provider Aug. 1. Part of the transition was a study of prices in the restaurants and C3 convenience stores across campus. 


Computer science freshman Noe Conteras strolls down the aisles of a C3 store looking for an afternoon snack, which might cost a little more now that Aramark is overseeing food services.
Evan Vargas/The Daily Cougar

"When we started the process (of switching food service providers), we looked at existing prices and where the price would be going," Lamar said. "In some cases, the prices increased, and in some cases, they decreased." 

Hamburgers at Grille Works in the University Center Satellite under Aramark cost slightly more than those at Fresh Grille under Chartwells because the burgers are made of better quality meat and are in larger portions, Lamar said. 

"If prices have gone up, it's because the product quality is different, and the sizing is different," Lamar said.

Prices and selection in the campus's C3 stores are designed to be similar to convenience stores, but some students said they could find better bargains in other local stores. 

"Prices in the C3s are too high," Psychology senior Taylor Dodge said. "You could go elsewhere (around Houston) and get the same products cheaper." 

Prices for items at C3 stores and convenience stores located on Scott Street and the Gulf Freeway are similar, Lamar said. A 12-piece package of Trident gum costs $1.19 on campus but is $1.29 at a nearby Shell convenience store. 

Though the price of 20-ounce Coca-Cola products in campus vending machines recently increased to $1.15 from $1, the drinks cost $1.09 at C3 stores and $1.19 at area convenience stores. Frozen entrees in the C3s range in price from $2.29 for a Totinos pepperoni pizza to $4.39 for an Amy Bowl Mexican casserole.

"The C3 (store) is an area where you're going to have slightly higher prices," Lamar said. "They cannot be grocery store prices. They're more comparable to convenience store prices."

Prices of chain restaurants such as Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are based on the brand prices and are comparable with those nationwide.

"I don't eat (at) Taco Bell, but I've noticed that those prices are pretty standard," Dodge said. "I do go to Starbucks about three times a week, and I can expect to pay what I'd pay at any Starbucks." 

Consistency of prices across campus is important when it comes to pricing, Lamar said. The cost of bottled drinks is the same in every C3 store, and the items offered at the Subway Restaurants in the UC and the UH Law Center are similarly priced. 

Most students seem to agree that healthier alternatives would warrant higher prices. Many on-campus dining offerings are fried and unhealthy and aren't worth paying more," computer engineering sophomore David Dang said. 

"It seems like prices have gone up this semester, but food on campus has always been expensive," Dodge said.
 

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