Budget meeting focuses on campus food prices

By Steven Adamo

The Husky Cafe’s food prices was the main topic of Monday’s Shared Governance Council meeting.

Tim Dow of Pacific Dining Food Management Service, the company that manages the Husky Cafe and food truck, discussed feedback from the students and staff about the newly-opened cafe.

Gary Garcia, Associated Student Union Senator at ELAC, said that students’ main concern about food on campus is the quality of food they get for the cost.

“I’m dealing with a lot of students that aren’t eating. I’m dealing with a lot of students that are homeless,” Garcia said.

The price of the food at ELAC is consistent throughout all the campuses that Pacific Dining manages. “We do that to leverage buying power from our (food) providers,” Dow said.

Pacific Dining’s primary food provider is Sysco, a multi-billion dollar food management corporation headquartered in Houston, Texas.

Dow says that due to the consistent pricing scheme, their company has the flexibility to handle fluctuations of food prices in the                                                          market. “We haven’t adjusted and have no intention of adjusting prices, probably for about two years,” Dow said.

Eldy Dean of the Modern Languages department asked how food waste is handled.

Dow said that the menu is designed in a way to minimize food waste.

“If it’s held at the right temperature, and we have the food safety of it still intact, we can go ahead and repurpose it in something within the next couple days. If it can be donated, and donated safely so we don’t get anybody sick or (cause) any food-born illnesses, certainly we’d do that in a moment,” Dow said.

According  to Garcia, another big criticism from the students of the new food operations on campus is the lack of combos like fries and a drink with a hamburger.

Garcia suggested that Pacific Dining consider food vendors other than Sysco, such as ones that offer 99 cent options that are nutritious. “It can be done,” Garcia said.

As solutions to the high cost of food on campus, Dow said to President Marivin Martinez that he’d integrate value menu items this week.

“Going straight to a 99 cent value-menu, I’d have to reach back to my team and think through this,” Dow said.

Pacific Dining also oversees the food truck on campus, which is sub-leased by LA Mobile.

Dow said that he wants the cafe and the food truck to operate the same so that they don’t undercut one another. “We’re not in competition here. We’re here to compliment each other,” Dow said.

Sherrie Davey, chairperson to the Psychology Department, discussed a lack of healthy options as well. The island in                                                                the middle of the Husky Cafe doesn’t currently have a refrigeration system, but the company is looking into healthier, pre-packaged items, Dow said.

Another area of focus for Pacific Dining is the menu choices. Dow said that initial                                                 feedback suggested more Asian menu items. “We try to mix and match all the campuses to whatever the needs are in that environment,” Dow said.

Feedback regarding menu items is encouraged on their website. “If there’s something you want to see, send it to us,” Dow said, “because in a lot of cases we run them on the menu and name it after the person who submitted it.”

The Husky Cafe opened three weeks prior to the other eight cafes that Pacific Dining operates for Los Angeles Community College District campuses, Dow said.

The agreement between Pacific Dining and the LACCD includes provisions to purchase produce locally.

“We can actually trace where each box of lettuce comes from, or the apples we’re selling that day,” Dow said.

The rent agreement between Pacific Dining and East Los Angeles College is 7 percent of top-line sales after taxes are removed.

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