Prices increase for cafeteria food

Higher minimum wage used as justification

Students faced an unexpected hike in food prices at the cafeteria this semester. Photo courtesy of Ginger Clarke.

In a change that may have gone unnoticed by some, when students returned to campus for spring semester, some menu items in the cafeteria were more expensive. 

Samantha Zizza, former cafeteria manager, raised prices citing increased costs from the Jan. 1 minimum wage increase from $11 to $11.50 an hour. The cafeteria announced the change on a small piece of paper taped next to the cash register. The paper was taken down after a week. Zizza resigned from her position on Jan. 12, and was unable to answer questions about her decision.

Assistant cafeteria manager Matthew Kirby had few answers when asked about the price increases.  Zizza left nothing behind saying which menu were affected by the increase or by how much. There was no record of previous menu prices left for archival purposes. Kirby said the minimum wage increase was one of multiple factors Zizza considered in raising prices. Pepsi, Coke and Cisco also had recent price increases.

The cafeteria tries to break even when it comes to potential profits or losses. It is not run by a third-party organization, according to Lynn Valenter, vice chancellor of finance and operations at WSUV. All funds and potential profits go into the foodservice budget. The purchasing of “new equipment and/or major repairs [is] irregular, so we use accumulated funds to defray repair or replacement costs or to buy new equipment,” Valenter said. The cafeteria is self-sustaining operation and receives no funding from tuition or the state for day-to-day operations.

Kirby said most – not all – prices were increased by $0.25. The cafeteria is staffed by about 20 students and three non-student employees, all of whom are paid minimum wage. Valenter said the only exception would be students on work study who make $12.26 an hour.

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