Administration and students confront rising food prices

Rising school lunch prices:

For the 2021-2022 St. John’s lunch prices have increased with some items increasing by up to two dollars. Sage Dining, the school’s meal provider, has increased the prices of multiple items, including the custom sandwiches. This increase in prices is caused by recent supply shortages in items such as paper, chicken and beef. 

Parents and students have raised concern about the increasing prices. Mr. Mancabelli is focused on responding to these complaints and reducing the prices of multiple items: custom sandwiches, premade sandwiches, and salads. He is focusing on reducing the prices of healthier options. “I’d rather take a loss so the healthy option is available to our students,” Mr. Mancabelli said.

St. John’s administration met with a SAGE representative and created a plan for action to reduce these prices. Mr. Mancabelli also introduced combo prices.  While a custom sandwich used to be 7.25, a combo, including fries and a fountain drink, is a total of 7.50. All deli and salad options can be made a combo for an additional $1.50. Mancabelli stated that combo prices have always been available, but they were poorly advertised.

A la carte prices include: salad with protein is $6.95, a salad with no protein is $5.95, grab and go sandwich is $5.95, custom sandwich is $6.00, and fries are $2.50.

St. Johns does have a diverse community, including students on need-based aid, which raises even more concerns regarding rising lunch prices. When students are not properly nourished this leads to decline in school performance and makes children more likely to repeat a grade. While St. John’s does not have a specific program for lunch assistance, each year teachers raise funds to pay for student needs, including lunch.

Students respond to rising lunch prices:

Since St. John’s students have returned to in-person school, they have noted an increase in the price of school lunch. Price increases have ranged from a few cents to a few dollars on many items such as the famed chocolate chip cookie which had its price raised from one dollar to a dollar and  twenty-five cents. The difference in prices can be attributed to the rise in the market price of food as a result of the pandemic creating supply chain issues for many companies that sell food. Regardless of the reason that the prices were raised, St. John’s students have been stirred up about the topic, especially upperclassmen that experienced the previous lower prices.

Juniors such as Olivia Dufour, Mercedes Perkins, and Menna Meshesha all weighed in on the subject. As a frequent sandwich enjoyer, Olivia Dufour often found herself in line to get sandwiches during her freshman year, but due to increased costs she’s found herself looking for different options. Olivia says that she’s been deterred from buying sandwiches because the prices have increased to which she finds irrational due to the fact that all she wanted was a grilled cheese which is “just cheese and bread”. 

Current junior Mercedes Perkins, has a similar take when she compares food costs from her freshman year to now. Mercedes believes that the food is more expensive and that it’s “not even good any more” because food her freshman year was “fresh, hot, and had good flavor” but now it’s “lukewarm…and not the same quality” as it was before. Menna Meshesha has also seen similar quality changes as she believes that “the fries are lacking seasoning” and that “students are receiving less food than” they did in her freshman year. Another thing she noted was that the cookies are “no longer warm and are frequently cold”. As a result of the decline in quality, both Mercedes and Menna think that the raised prices are ridiculous when the decline in quality that they have noticed is taken into account. 

So the question now, in light of all of these complaints, is should the prices be lowered? According to several students, the answer is yes. Menna says yes because she used to be able to “get a full meal with five dollars while now you can barely get anything”. Olivia also agrees as she stated that prices should be lowered because she feels like she could pay the same amount for higher quality food at a restaurant than she would get at St. John’s.

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