Maggie's Cafe waits for students looking to purchase late-night snacks or a cup of coffee to help make it through their homework. Photo by Madeleine Newton

Bon Appétit’s food monopoly at LC hits students’ bank accounts

Maggie’s Café is one of the two cafés on campus and is one of the only places to get coffee that does not just taste like water. The café also acts as the only convenience store on campus. It is operated and stocked by Bon Appétit and uses the flex point system.

Everyone at Lewis & Clark already knows about the tight and oppressive grip our Bon Appétit overlords have on our wallets and taste buds. As time goes on, the repercussions of this are getting more and more apparent. The upselling at Maggie’s is approaching a ludicrous level, to the dismay of many students and their flex point accounts. 

For example, an 8.5-ounce bag of Kettle brand chips from Fred Meyer costs around $3, so around $0.35 per ounce. For a five-ounce bag of Kettle brand chip at Maggie’s, it costs $3.25, which is exactly $0.65 per ounce. That is almost twice the price per ounce for your bag of chips. 

A 14-ounce bottle of Brew Dr. Kombucha costs $4.45 at Maggie’s, and $2.99 at Fred Meyer. You can buy a 16-ounce jar of Jif peanut butter for $2.59 at Fred Meyer, but the same item goes for $4.20 at Maggie’s. One of the only items that does not seem to be marked up is the Matador brand beef jerky, but that may be because the price is literally printed onto the package.

 Many of the items that Maggie’s sells do not have labels on them, which can lead to unsuspecting students spending more than expected on food items. For example, all of their bottled and canned drinks and their small packaged candy do not have any prices listed on them.

“So what?” you may be thinking. “It is common knowledge that Maggie’s overcharges for their food.” The problem is not the fact that Maggie’s is overcharging, but rather the amount of control that Bon Appétit has over LC students. On a small, secluded campus like ours, it is sometimes incredibly hard and inconvenient to do outside shopping, especially during midterm and final seasons and for first-years who are not allowed to park cars on campus. Sometimes the only place to get food outside of the dining hall (also operated by Bon Appétit) is Maggie’s. Students cannot take a trip to Fred Meyer every week, and ordering delivery is almost as, if not more, expensive as just paying almost double for the convenience that Maggie’s provides. 

Since our options are extremely limited, the options we do have should be priced fairly. And even if they are not fairly priced, at the very least there should be price labels on every item so we can know how much money we are going to spend. This might be a little too extremist for Bon Appétit, but maybe let students get more than just a bag of generic brand chips and a small drink with their pre-prepared sandwich when they use an entire meal swipe. With their monopoly on food services, Bon Appétit already makes so much money off of students using the meal plans. Can they at least try to match competitor prices? Do they really need the extra $2.00 they make when they upsell some peanut butter?

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