By Emily Bowers
Donovan Neil likes his pizza, but the first-year theatre technical production student and Pitman Hall resident can’t afford to buy his staple food on campus and finds himself venturing away from home to find a slice that won’t leave him broke.
Ryerson students regularly pay more for more food on campus than they do off campus and not just for pizza. A cup of coffee from Coffee Time is also cheaper off campus just up the street, as are burgers and other generic foods.
Students have to shell out almost 20 cents more for a noticeably smaller slice if they buy from one of the two campus Pizza Pizza locations. One slice of pepperoni pizza from the Pitman Hall cafeteria or the Hub in Jorgenson Hall costs $2.55.
But if you walk a block off campus to Pizza Pizza outlets on the corners of either Church and Dundas streets or Yonge and Elm streets, you’ll pay only $2.25 for a slightly larger slice.
Neil said he cannot afford to pay the prices in the cafeteria, especially with the money left on his meal card dwindling. “I don’t buy pizza on campus because it’s so expensive,” he said. Neil said he can order a large pizza to be delivered for around $11, while two pieces from Pitman Hall cost him around $7.
Other foods prepared by Philadelphia based Aramark, which runs the Hub and Pitman Hall’s cafeterias, are expensive on campus. A hamburger combo at the Hub, which includes medium fries and drink, costs $4.25 plus taxes. A similar meal costs $5.60 in Pitman Hall’s cafeteria, where a combo is not available. Just off campus, Burger King and McDonald’s both offer similar combos for just $3.99.
Coffee Time is also on campus with a kiosk in lower Jorgenson Hall and prices there also differ from off-campus sites. A large coffee costs $1.40 on campus, but just $1.25 off campus.
But Tanya Lorimar-Charles, acting director at Ryerson’s food services and an Aramark employee, said the prices at Pizza Pizza and other franchises on campus are set by the franchise.” (Pizza Pizza) has every right as a franchise to determine what prices will be selling on campus,” she said.
Aramark’s district manager Robert Zmack said prices are negotiated between Ryerson, represented by Aramark, and the actual company. For each campus location, the negotiations are different, Zmack said.
“It has to do with how much the product is costing us,” he said. “There’s not one person dictating the price.”
Aramark and the franchise look at several factors. Local competition, cost of commodities such as pizza cheese, and expenses like the cost of labour are all taken into account.
After a price is negotiated between Aramark and the franchise for final approval, Zmack said. That price does not change during the school year.
Part of the contract involves how much of an investment the company has in the on-campus locations, Zmack said. “There are different levels of involvement,” he said. One of these investments is renting of equipment to the location. In some location both on and off campus, the company will loan equipment for running the operation to the site. In Pizza Pizza’s case, for example, Zmack said Pizza Pizza loans the conveyor-style ovens used to cook the pizza to the Ryerson locations.
Vincent Solek, Pizza Pizza’s vice-president of new business, says students pay more for pizza on campus than off campus for a number of reasons, including labour costs. While Pizza Pizza employees work for minimum wage, Solek said the franchise doesn’t hire the employees who work at Ryerson.
They’re Aramark employees, who are unionized and organized under OPSEU and are therefore paid $8.68 an hour, approximately $2 more than Ontario’s minimum wage of $6.85. This is taken into consideration when prices are set.
There is also a Mr. Sub stand in the Hurb, but unlike Pizza Pizza prices for subs cost the same on campus as they do off campus.
There is also a Mr. Sub stand in the Hub, but unlike Pizza Pizza, prices for subs cost the same on campus as they do off campus.
The differences between food prices on and off campus have made some students feel they’re not getting a fair deal.
“It’s not really fair,” said Jennifer VanNierkerk, a first-year architecture student and Pitman Hall resident.
“But they can get away with it.”