The Cost of Food: A Student’s Perspective
I will begin by making clear my reason for applying to Simon Fraser University (SFU) in the first place. The initial attraction of attending a university known for being “innovative” led me to dig deeper into what this institution had to offer. I took interest in the Mechatronics program and associated coop opportunities. I saw them as an excellent gateway to the automotive or aerospace industry, my dream (hopefully reality) career path. Naturally I chose classes at the Surrey campus because the commute is far shorter.
Inevitably, my first long day came up during my first semester here at SFU. It started and would continue with Tech 101W from 8:30-11:20am on every Wednesday for the next 3 ½ months. However, my next class started at 3:30pm and that first class often left me with a rather empty feeling, something to be desired: food.
Food, you see, was one factor I had not put great emphasis on (which will be surprising to those of you who know me). A brief browse through the mall and surrounding area that Wednesday brought me to the food court, where I decided Subway would be my new budget meal stop. Those days, I could (and would) buy a 6” Sub-of-the-Day on Italian Herb and Cheese bread (toasted please and thank you) with cheddar cheese, lots of every topping and a little Sweet Onion dressing for a grand total of $3.14 (I don’t need my receipt, thank you and have a great day). A trip to the water fountain or $1.14 for a bottle of pop at “The Everything Dollar Store” would quench my thirst too. However, the culinary lifestyle I led was crushed March 4th of this year.
March 4, 2009: the day Subway reformatted their offers. The S.O.T.D was canned in favour of $5.99 for your choice of a footlong Veggie, Meatball, Pizza, Ham or Assorted Coldcut sub. Not the greatest selection in my humble opinion, but it did make me think. How come there are no great discounts for students attending a university that’s practically built atop a mall with a food court? While the rest of my article deals with the issue of food, I have not heard of any deals for SFU students at any of the stores in the mall either.
There are only two food-related Student Discounts in the Surrey Central food court. According to Tram, an Orange Julius employee, any SFU student can get a 10% discount when buying anything at Orange Julius if they show their student ID card. Though, with prices starting at $3.19 for a small Juicer, I would still opt for the dollar store pop or water fountain. The second deal exclusively offered to those wielding a current SFU student ID card is at Subway. Subway employee, Kiran explained, “You can get any footlong sub for $5.99 if you show your student ID”. However, by “any” she really meant any of the 5 plus the BMT as well. To further put things into perspective, anyone can get $1 off freshly squeezed O.J. downstairs by the TNT Market after 5:30pm. As for Subway, once you put lots of every topping, a little Sweet Onion dressing and cheddar cheese on a sub, it doesn’t really matter what flavour you buy in the first place. Therefore, there are no real perks food-wise to attending SFU.
On the contrary, SFU’s Burnaby campus has launched their “SFU Local Food Project” in an attempt to “1) Increase the amount of fresh local food available on campus 2) Raise awareness of the benefits of local food (less greenhouse gas emissions, healthier, supports local farmers and a vibrant local economy) 3) Encourage and support food production and distribution projects on campus”. The University of British Columbia (UBC) has Food Services offering a “UBCcard” and a “Dining à la UBCcard” program with “Online Services Now Available” to help students trying to sustain themselves nutritionally as well as financially at their campus.
I polled a few of my friends and friends’ friends at the food court in order to see just how much we spend on food while at school. Mark - ~$20/week (mostly Subway or New York Fries), Lindsey - <$10/week (Subway once or twice), Dusty - <$10 (coffee), Niko – ~$60/week (Subway or Teriyaki). I hardly if ever buy food at school anymore if I can avoid it. At the most I spend $10 if I go to White Spot for a burger on Thursday (my new “longest day”). How come students at the Surrey campus of SFU don’t have any special discounts let alone “Dining à la [SFU]card” with “Online Services Now Available”? Don’t even get me started about the nutritional value most of the food at these places either.