New cafeteria provider spikes food choices, prices

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Biology sophomore Gracie Rivera buys lunch Oct. 21 in the cafeteria of Loftin. A new contract states food prices will be affordable, but students have complained it is more expensive. Rivera said she has not noticed an increase of prices. Photo by Derrick Patron

Biology sophomore Gracie Rivera buys lunch Oct. 21 in the cafeteria of Loftin. A new contract states food prices will be affordable, but students have complained it is more expensive. Rivera said she has not noticed an increase of prices. Photo by Derrick Patron

Students prefer former food service company.

By Cynthia M. Herrera

cherrera151@student.alamo.edu

Lancer Hospitality not only brought new food choices to the colleges but higher prices as well, causing concerns for students across this campus.

The company started its three-year contract with the Alamo Colleges Aug. 24 after the board of trustees approval July 28.

They are headquartered in Minnesota and have 30 years of hospitality management experience. They specialize in dining services, catering, vending services to clients such as amusement parks, corporations and schools.

A minute order provided during the July 28 regular board meeting states Lancer was chosen because it would provide affordable pricing; however, prices for menu items are higher than the previously contracted company, Selrico Services.

Selrico was contracted with the Alamo Colleges for eight years.

Engineering sophomore Rick De La Garza noticed a difference in the size of pizza slices.

“I thought it was pricey before. Now I really don’t want to buy anything,” De La Garza said, while eating pizza he brought from home. “I thought the food was better last semester. The pizza slices were a lot bigger for the same price they are now.”

Pizza is $2.69 per slice. Sandwiches average $5.49 and $2.49 extra for chips or fruit with a small soda or half liter of bottled water. Selrico priced sandwiches at $4.59.

Architecture freshman Ryan Norris said he enjoys the food served. The employees, some of whom were also employed by Selrico, are nice, he said.

“I enjoy coming here. They’re really friendly,” he said “They give you what you want.”

Gary O’Bar, director for purchasing and contract administration, said there are many reasons prices are different from the previous contractor.

“We went out and surveyed the students and found out what they would pay for breakfast lunch and dinner. So we priced that accordingly. We didn’t want to get a $10 hamburger if they were only willing to pay three bucks, so we accomplished that,” O’Bar said. “Why those prices are higher than Selrico, it could be a thousand different reasons.

“They may have more labor working on the project,” he said.

Nursing sophomore Alexis Lezama said she preferred Selrico’s services, but prices are about the same elsewhere.

“It was healthier last semester, as far as the sandwiches,” Lezama said. “Most places off campus are probably the same price. I prefer last semester; they had more options.”

O’Bar said Lancer has a different strategy of handling its business.

“We didn’t have the same business requirements as we did for Selrico. Why was Selrico selling things cheaper, I don’t know. Maybe that was a part of their marketing strategy, but I’ll tell you one thing, they don’t have the demands that Lancer has going forward,” he said. “What we try to do, of course, you know, the Alamo Way, always inspire, always improve, is the improvement part. We try to get a better product, a better service for our client, who is you, the student.”

O’Bar also said Lancer employees receive benefits, which could be another factor for higher prices. He said the Alamo Colleges requires Lancer to be opened longer hours along with a wide selection of food.

This college’s cafeteria is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and meals are available 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Selrico carried Coca-Cola products; Lancer carries Pepsi.

Lancer sells 16-ounce fountain drinks at $1.59, a 24-ounce at $1.89 and a 32-ounce. at $2.35. However, Selrico priced a 24-ounce soda at $1.39 and a 32-ounce at $1.69.

O’Bar said another reason the Alamo Colleges chose Lancer over Selrico was because students were tired of old, stale food.

“The students were fed up with Selrico’s product line. They were fed up with their offering. They were fed up with old, stale food. Cold food (and) food not available. So all of that has a bearing on the cost of the ownership for that company and then it’s reflected in the retail,” O’Bar said.

Pete Viring, regional director of operations, said, “We’re very excited to be there, and one of the great things about our company is we don’t necessarily stay static. We listen to our customers’ needs and wants and try to react to it as quickly as possible and keep people happy. Our customers are the most important thing to our business. Without them we wouldn’t have one.”

He said prices across the campuses are cheaper than other colleges they are contracted with and are working with the Alamo Colleges to adjust them.

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