As the final weeks of fall lie before Troy, many students are finding their meal plans to be depleting more quickly now that the semester is ending.
“They only give us $250, and that doesn’t last,” said Anthony Harris, a sophomore nursing major from Montgomery, of students living off campus.
However, students’ meal plans may have been diminishing faster than necessary.
A recent look at the prices of food items being sold in Herb’s Place shows a disparity between what is being charged on campus and what items are retailing for elsewhere.
To give an example, a snack container of about 2 ounces of Sabra hummus and 15 pretzel chips costs $5.39 at Herb’s place.
At Walmart, a 1-pound, 1-ounce tub of name-brand hummus and a 12-ounce bag of name-brand pretzels can be purchased for a total of $5.46.
This is a snack almost 10 times larger, for the same price.
“I don’t like that my Flex Dollars are used so fast because everything is so expensive,” said Corina Cox, a sophomore English major from Los Fresnos, Texas.
From a Snickers candy bar marked up $1.26 higher than Walmart’s prices to a TV dinner costing $3.44 more, there was not a single item tested at Herb’s that was priced the same or lower at Walmart.
The majority were not even close, with about half being at least twice as expensive.
Ibrahim Yildirim, general manager of Sodexo food services at Troy, said that it is impossible to keep with the prices offered by a mega orporation such as Walmart.
“We are here not to take money from the students, but to provide for the students,” said Yildirim. “Without the students, none of us are here.”
After other price differences were pointed out, Yildirim admitted that there is room for error within the computer system used to price goods sold on campus.
With over 1,000 individual items in the system, Yildirim said that some of them have been selling for more than intended.
“I’m going through and making adjustments right now,” he said.
Troy Dining Services says that this has been a mistake and not an intentional attempt to overcharge students.
“We try to fit with the students’ budgets,” said Yildirim.
Sheetal Nangia, marketing manager for Sodexo at Troy, wants students to know that there is value to the food plan and the choices being offered on campus.
“We don’t want dining services to be about just food or money,” Nangia said. “We want to be in the culture of Troy.”