By Melanie Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat October 17, 1996
The Memorial Student Union has been forced to increase its food prices to make up for an unexpected $90,000 increase in the Union's expenses.
The new minimum wage increase of 50 cents, which went into effect Oct. 1, added $60,000 to the Union's payroll budget, and a drought across Arizona and the Midwest, affecting the cost of meat, dairy, and grain products, has resulted in higher food costs t hat have forced the Union to absorb the sum of $30,000, said Dan Adams, director of the Memorial Student Union.
Adams said Union officials have budgeted extra money in anticipation of the minimum wage increase being passed, but with the effects of the drought and lower enrollment at the University of Arizona, the Union is feeling the effects.
"We are looking to increase selected food items within the Union," he said. "The longer we wait, the more significant the increases will have to be."
Currently, the Union has raised the price of milk by 5 cents and bagels by 3 cents. A scoop of Dryers ice cream increased from $1.25 to $1.50.
Prices at the Fidlee Fig sandwich bar increased 3 cents per ounce to 35 cents, and the salad bar was raised by 2 cents per ounce to 25 cents, with the maximum per plate jumping 35 cents to $3.85.
Eric Kazmierczak, political science senior, said he thinks the price increases are reasonable.
"The minimum wage increase is affecting all kinds of business," he said. "There is no reason the Union should have to take the loss."
Heather Lafferty, speech and hearing sciences senior, who received the 50 cent per hour pay increase, said, "Paying 3 cents more for a bagel is not going to kill me when I'm getting a 50 cent raise."
Revenues from "very moderate increases in food prices will be used to counteract the extra food costs," Adams said.
Martha Mantione, senior supervisor of dining services, said the Union has raised prices in the past in an effort to counteract natural causes that resulted in higher food costs, but added that as soon as the "crisis" was over the prices resumed their orig inal status.
Union officials are continuing to evaluate the situation and are planning to increase prices on more food items over the next few weeks, Mantione said.
"Before we ever raise prices, we think of the long-term and short-term effects it will have on the students," she said. "Any time we raise prices it hurts everyone, we do it with an awful lot of thought."
Jennifer Conover, psychology junior, said, "I did notice the increase in the salad bar price and I will not be buying it as much any more."
Anthony Marcotte, optical engineering junior, said the food increase is "still going to affect me. My budget stays the same whether the prices go up."
Adams said, "Traditionally, we don't like to change prices during the semester because we know the students have budgets."
The Union watches prices on all food commodities, increasing them and decreasing them accordingly, Mantione said.
She also added with the increase in wages, employee scheduling will have to be evaluated.
Union officials are evaluating the extended hours of Taco Bell and the U-Mart during the week to see if they are economically beneficial, Mantione said. Also, they are looking into what Union services are utilized the most on the weekends, she said.
Adams said cutting back on employee hours will be hard because the union "keeps a tight labor pool already."
Mantione added that employee hours will not be reduced if it means sacrificing service.