Campus vendor prices don’t match up

Andrea Steere

Saving money is a significant part of attending a university. Between tuition and gas there isn’t much money left to spare.

College students everywhere search for ways to cut down on spending, especially in times of economic recession.

The College Board estimates that Missouri Southern students will spend from $1500 to $2000 on personal expenses. In other words, University students may spend up to $2000 on whatever they want, including those soft drinks in between classes or lunch in the Lion’s Den.

Isaac Humphreys, junior computer information science major, is concerned about saving money this year.

“I go to school only part time because financial aid ‘effed’ me this year. I am working full time to make up for it,” said Humphreys. “One of my goals in life is to never take out a loan until I buy a house.”

One way to cut down on excess spending is to find cheaper snacks.

There are many different outlets for students to purchase candy bars and bottled soda on campus, but there are also many different prices.

One of the most popular places on campus to eat is the Lion’s Den.

The Lion’s Den charges $1.39 for bottled sodas, such as Dr. Pepper, and water, $1.59 for Sobe Lifewater, $2.69 for Amp energy drinks and 99 cents for candy bars, such as Snickers and Hershey’s.

Students can also find the same products in University Java, MSSU’s cafe, located in Spiva Library.

University Java prices for bottled drinks and candy are supposed to be the same as the Lion’s Den prices, said Mike Wonderly, food service director with Sodexo.

Food for both the Lion’s Den and University Java are provided by the University’s dining service, Sodexo.

“Prices are based off of a competitive analysis. I find the closest competitors to base the prices off of,” said Wonderly.

“I can’t consider McDonald’s a price competitor because of their buying power. I look at convenience stores and places like Babe’s as price competitors. I don’t try to be the highest [price] but I can’t be the lowest. I try to be right in the middle.”

But Sodexo provided food is not the only food students can find on campus. Within the same building as the Lion’s Den, is the University’s bookstore, which offers many of the same concessions.

The bookstore charges $1.39 for bottled sodas, $1.16 for water, $1.59 for Sobe Lifewater, $2.29 for Amp and 89 cents for candy bars.

Aside from the bookstore, MSSU has many vending machines around campus that students can use. In fact, there is a vending machine on the same floor as University Java, which offers some of the same products as the cafe.

Vending machines charge $1.25 for both bottled soda and bottled water, $1.50 for Sobe Lifewater, $2 for Amp and 85 cents for candy bars.

“Vending machines are usually cheaper than the store because you don’t have to pay taxes,” said Wonderly.

Despite the variation of prices, the Lion’s Den continues to be full of students throughout the week.

“I like to eat in the Lion’s Den because it’s conveniently in the middle of campus,” said Humphreys. “It’s nice to have real food that is cooked once in awhile. Also, it is quick — depending on the line.”

“I use Lionbucks, so it’s convenient. I probably wouldn’t eat there if it weren’t for Lionbucks. But it beats going off campus for food,” said Brittany Lampe, freshman elementary education major.

But students are not unaware of the price differences.

“I would say the food at the Lion’s Den is a bit pricey, but they’re trying to make money, and a lot of people are willing to pay the high prices for the convenience of having it on campus,” said Kayla Marti, junior business major. “But I do think they would get a lot more customers if they were to lower their prices.”

“The prices are pretty high, but it’s not bad. I think the fact that you don’t get a refill on the fountain drinks is retarded though,” said Valentin Dubuis, freshman criminal justice and French major.

“I don’t like the prices because I generally can’t justify spending that much on that little food,” said Humphreys.

“Do they expect every student to have Lionbucks that he or she can’t get rid of? If the Lion’s Den were a bit cheaper I would probably eat there around three times a week. Instead, I eat there maybe once in two weeks, if that.”