Lehigh increased prices at dining locations across campus starting March 21, citing nationwide inflation as the cause, according to Evan Rehrig, marketing manager for Lehigh Dining Services.
Dining locations that saw price increases include The Grind, the Fud Truck and Common Grounds.
Rehrig said changes like this typically occur over the summer through an annual price review on campus with a benchmark of local establishments such as Chipotle, Starbucks and Wawa. This year’s review resulted in a 6.8 percent price increase approved by the university, which Rehrig said keeps the prices at a comparatively low rate.
“It is unprecedented that we change prices this time of year, but if inflation does decrease, if prices do decrease, we’re going to change our prices to reflect that as well,” Rehrig said. “We don’t want to be part of price gouging or anything like that. We just want to be in line with our competitors.”
Rehrig said the decision to increase prices was due to external factors. He said supply chain and procurement issues due to the pandemic, such as a lack of delivery drivers, have resulted in a spontaneous switch of dairy providers. Inflation has also caused fuel surcharges. Rehrig said a general food price increase of 6.4 percent since January 2021 was also taken into consideration for this decision.
“We feel for the students because they have a significant investment into their meal plan,” Rehrig said. “We want to make sure that we’re offering the best possible value that we can, and we’re trying to balance what’s right for the students, what’s right for the business and what’s in line with the other benchmarks that are out there.”
Robert Magnus, ‘25, said he thinks the university should be more conscious when deciding to raise prices.
“It’s one thing if it’s raised at the beginning of the year, at the beginning of the semester,” Magnus said. “But midway through the semester, actually a little more than midway through the semester, that’s kind of unfair.”
Magnus said he thinks the school should revert the prices, add dining dollars to student accounts or provide free meals to offset the price increase.
“Food prices are outrageous,” Jack Lehman, ’25, said. “I do not approve with the 6.8% increase. We need healthier options, not at a higher price.”
Despite price increases, some dining locations on campus are striving to provide special, limited-time discounts to students. Chick-N-Bap has been holding a “happy hour” which provides bowls at a discounted price, Rehrig said.
Rehrig further said there are no expected changes to meal plans, and he does not expect much change in purchasing frequency. He said prices still reflect the high quality of the products that students receive.
Rehrig said the dining services team appreciates the students and their patience.
“We’re transparent, but we’re not here to make excuses,” Rehrig said. “We’re here to deliver good food and a good experience for students, no matter what the circumstances are.”