As nationwide inflation soars, students are feeling the impact on Duke Dining.
Robert Coffey, executive director of dining, told The Chronicle that all independent on-campus venues have increased the costs of meals in response to national market-driven inflation and an unprecedented 40-year high with the Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index, as well as Duke’s recently increased minimum wage.
“This is the first time our local operators have addressed the inflation increases,” he wrote in an email to The Chronicle.
Coffey wrote that Duke Dining is continuing to work on pricing with local vendors, who independently determine their prices.
“During normal times when inflation is much more predictable we would have this process completed well in advance of the fall opening,” he wrote.
Students were not notified of the eateries’ price changes prior to the Aug. 10 deadline to change meal plans. Each upperclass meal plan increased by 4.3% from the 2021-2022 academic year.
Campus eateries also saw price increases last year, which Coffey referred to as “the normal annual increase that is done for the new academic year at fall opening.”
Last year, however, campus eateries didn’t have price increases throughout the year as inflation rose each month, according to Coffey.
Duke Dining “[frowns] upon allowing price increases during the academic year as we know it makes financial planning for meals unpredictable and stressful for students,” Coffey wrote.
Instead, Duke “managed the rising cost internally and didn't pass it on to the Duke community during the academic year."
This year, Duke is trying to give vendors more time to finalize prices so they can have the most up to date inflation data.
“By giving the vendors this extra time we are hopeful they can set prices that won't change during the semester and academic year,” he wrote. “We will continue to analyze pricing until we feel all venue menu items have been verified.”
Some price comparisons
Last year, The Devil’s Krafthouse’s southwest chicken cobb salad cost $12.99 before tax. Now, it costs $14.60 before tax.
At Sazón, an arepa bowl with protein last year would ring up to $9.35 before tax. Now, the dish costs $11.40 before tax.
And two-topping pizza from Il Forno used to cost $10 after tax—now, it costs $12.09 after tax.
The $5 Daily Devil Deal is also now more than $6 at several eateries after tax, such as Sazón and Krafthouse. However, Coffey wrote that venues will have $5 daily deals that will be “on display at each location,” and “Inflation Buster Combos ... are coming soon.”
“Our on-campus vendors take pricing very seriously as they are competing against 30+ other on-campus locations,” Coffey wrote. “Our challenge during these unprecedented times is securing locked pricing or stable forecasts from growers, producers, suppliers and transportation enterprises.”
Milla Surjadi contributed reporting.
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Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.