March 1, 2011

Limited Produce Supply Leads Cornell Dining to Raise Salad Prices

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After recent cold weather in North and Central America caused a significant reduction in the United State’s supply of fresh produce, Cornell Dining added a one dollar surcharge to produce items sold in its eateries beginning Feb. 22.

According to a statement from Cornell Dining, the surcharge will remain in place for the near future. The added cost applies to pre-packaged Freshtake Grab-n-Go salads and salads sold at salad bars. Price increases range between 20 to 50 percent, depending on the item, the statement said.

The price increase comes after a frigid winter for North and Central America with some of the “coldest weather conditions in the past 50 years,” the statement said. “This has caused extensive damage to the majority of crops, resulting in an extremely limited supply of quality produce.”

Gail Finan ’69, director of Cornell Dining, could not be reached for comment.

According to the statement, produce suppliers have the authority to temporarily increase their prices to help cover revenue losses.

Though Cornell has received “few inquiries” from customers, Cornell Dining said “the explanation for the surcharge has been understood and, on the whole, has been supported by our Cornell community.”

But according to Cassey Mayo, a Cornell Dining employee who works at the salad bar in Trillium, many customers who order salads from her have been less than understanding.

“We’ve gotten a lot of negative feedback,” Mayo said.

Mayo said that the anger over the surcharge is often directed at those working behind the salad bar.

Elaine Sladich, an employee and cashier at Trillium, said that the surcharge is not conveyed well to students and that they often arrive at the cashier without knowing the increased price.

“We have had a couple of students and staff who haven’t even wanted to buy their salads once they know the price,”she said.

Two small signs in Trillium informed customers of the surcharge, but the larger board displaying prices for all items has not been changed to reflect the new prices.

One student said he will not buy the products with the increased prices.

“I’ll be bringing a bagged lunch to trillium for awhile, Ryan Hand ’13 said.

Stephanie Friedman ’13, who frequently buys produce products at Cornell’s eateries, said she thought the price increase was understandable.

“I think it’s fair,” she said. “Hopefully no one will have to change their lunch plans, but I understand.”

Original Author: Shane Dunau