After being shut down for 15 months due to renovations and remodeling, the North Campus cafeteria finally reopened at the start of the fall semester.
The long-awaited reopening came as a sigh of relief for many students and staff who struggled to find a decent meal on campus and had to resort to eating lunch at Wendy’s or McDonald’s, which required walking or driving a few blocks from campus.
Located on the first floor of building four, the renovated facility is equipped with a total of six food stations: Café, Build Your Own Pizza, JustBurger, The Main Dish, MonduSun and the Outtakes station.
Despite the extensive makeover, there is still a lot of room left for improvement.
While the new options are plentiful, the price tags on many of the meals are simply not affordable for a lot of college students. As a result, the North Campus cafeteria appears to be a better place to meet with friends or study at, than an actually location to dine in.
“When you’re hungry, you want to get full,” said the advisor of the Gardening and Improving Nutrition Club at the North Campus, Veronica Urquidi. “I see how students here go to Wendy’s, go to McDonald’s, just because you’re gonna get more for your money. So we’re not really encouraging the students to go to the cafeteria.”
A burger at the cafeteria costs $4.50 with no drink or fries included and an extra charge of 45 cents to add cheese. Overall, a burger with fries and a fountain drink at the cafeteria will cost a student $7.98 plus tax. Theoretically, if a student attends class Monday through Friday and must eat lunch at school everyday, this amounts to about $40 a week for lunch alone. Contrarily, a burger with fries, chicken nuggets, and a drink at Wendy’s—located across the street from North—costs a mere $4.28.
“For what I’m paying, I could just get a full meal that tastes ten times better at Wendy’s for four bucks,” said Marysleisis Buitrago, a mass communications student at North Campus. “People are saving what they can, so for someone who just wants to stop by and have lunch because they have to stay here all day, it’s not really fair.”
Although the quality of the cafeteria’s food is likely fresher than anything at a fast food restaurant, it is simply not a good bargain for students. Maybe the prices are affordable for faculty members, but for a typical college student who is trying to save money and get the most bang for their buck, the cafeteria food seems more like an occasional treat than a place to frequent for lunch.
However high the prices may seem, the issue of pricing is not all black and white.
Hannibal N. Burton, director of auxiliary services at Miami Dade College, said that prices for menu items at the cafeteria are compared to local pricing and the Consumer Price Index.
“The pricing is commensurate with like items,” Burton said. “I think the criticism is due to people buying items à la carte versus in a combo or lunch special.”
Despite this factor, the problem of affordability still remains for many students at the North Campus. With 65 percent of MDC students being from low-income households—according to a 2018 MDC press release—it is not fair for students to not be able to find an economically priced, filling meal on their own campus. As an institution that advocates for access for all students, the College needs to do better.