Whether it be about fast food chains or buffets, meal plans and dining halls available on campus, affordability is the main concern students have when it comes to thinking about what they want and need to eat during their times spent on campus.
Coyote Dining’s General Manager, Dave Janosky, claimed, “I wouldn’t know who can or can’t afford food. But, we try to make a tier where we have value options that are available for students that are low cost.”
They compare and contrast street prices and try to match them.
“So, if you have a sandwich that’s sold out at street for $4.50, we always try to come in under what the local market is for the same item, so we’re always trying to create value for students on campus. At the same time, obviously, you can’t go too low because of the cost of goods and how the minimum wage is increasing and all those things,” Janosky elaborated.
For students who find food on campus unaffordable, Janosky promoted their “partner[ship] with the DEN” and revealed that they “do donate…meal vouchers as well as donate goods to the DEN, so the students who can’t buy food – whatever their number is, we can still assist them.”
However, students expressed that they were unfamiliar with the DEN food pantry.
Amelia Saucedo, a Junior on campus, knew about the DEN, though she admitted to “mostly never” going there.
“I feel bad, like I’ve heard of it, and I did [go] like once but that was, like, during the testing when they were giving out free scantrons, so that was the only time,” Saucedo said.
“I don’t think so many students know about DEN food pantry, especially first-years, so it’s kinda like hidden until someone knows. I go to the Palm Desert campus and also come to San Bernardino, but I didn’t know about the DEN food pantry at Palm Desert until my second year, so they don’t really talk about it, like, that much,” Saucedo added.
Another undergraduate student, Yolanda Saucedo, a senior who knew about the DEN, responded similarly to how she benefits from the resource.
“I only go there when testing’s going on, cause sometimes it costs a lot to buy a scantron and it’s always free over there, and you get snacks and everything, so I’m like, ‘okay.’”
Amelia stated that she only buys food from campus “twice, like literally out of the month, cause I mostly bring my lunch cause it gets expensive in here.”
Yolanda, on the other hand, buys food on campus “twice a week.” She clarified that it depends “on if I have money or not. If not, I bring my own lunch. Some of the pricing is okay, but like, when you don’t have money, you can’t buy any food.”
Senior undergraduate student, Eva Sandoval, talked about her satisfaction with food pricing on campus, specifically from Coyote Dining, based on the two days out of the week she’s on campus.
“I’m only here Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I’ll usually buy food from the campus. Usually, it’s just one meal, and I think it’s pretty good – almost $10 and it’s all-you-can-eat. But the places at the Student Union, that’s where it gets pricier, and all the snacks and everything is really, really pricey. Basically, you get more for your money here at Coyote Dining,” Sandoval expressed.
There are also meal plans available as an option for students. On student meal plans, General Manager Janosky said that “for students living in the dorms,” it’s “mandatory for freshmen and they’ll have a choice from three different meal plans that are basically tailored to their needs. They’ll have one that best suits their needs, so there’s the unlimited plan, there’s 15, and 12. These different plans are based on how many meals they want in the dining hall and there will be dollars loaded into their Coyote ID cards, so they can use it on Starbucks, Einstein, Student Union, Howl & Growl – any of these locations on campus.”
One of the freshmen students, Alyssa Ramirez, who dorms at Coyote Village, revealed that though they have three options for the meal plans, “they all cost $1,470 per quarter.”
Ramirez added, “I like to cook and I can cook, but the kitchen’s kind of far from my room, so I think next year I’ll look for an off-campus apartment and I’ll just cook. I also like being outside more than being in the commons.”
For non-freshmen students, including those who reside at off-campus apartments, General Manager Janosky explained that there are voluntary meal plans for them to purchase.
“The point of those plans is to provide students a value, so if they purchase those plans and they do the math, they will see that our plans are cheaper than going anywhere else, so they’ll get full buffet, all-you-can-eat, no tip – all that for a discounted price,” Janosky said.
“It’s a really, really good deal, so we always try to sell that to students just because it’s an option. The hard part is, for a lot of students, it’s hard to give up money upfront, but if they look at the long- term value, they do the math, they’ll see that they’re saving a lot of money over the course of a year.”