Photos by Jaishon Johnson | Staff Photographer
Article by Raziel Muniz | Staff Writer
Sept. 18, 2014
The fall semester has begun and with the end of summer heat seemingly nowhere in sight, Riverside City College welcomes not only the highest temperatures of the year, but also the highest prices for food and refreshments at the City Grill.
Hot and flustered students from all walks of life fill the City Grill everyday this semester, seeking food, drink and relaxation. But like many things, it comes at a price. And this fall the price is significantly higher than previous semesters.
Effective July 1, the minimum wage in California increased by $1 dollar. This might seem like good news for some students at RCC who work within the Student Employment Program, 25 of which Cheryl Ruzak, Director of Food Services at RCC, oversees. Due to the rise in the minimum wage, some alterations have been put into effect at the City Grill, specifically with regards to the pricing of certain food and drink items.
“The rise in the minimum wage has forced prices for roughly 30 percent of the items on our menu to increase,” Ruzak said. Like any business, remaining profitable sometimes means taxing the consumer. When the price of labor takes a hike, the price of the consumer good follows.
Along with the rise in the minimum wage, Ruzak expressed how the rise in the price of certain consumer goods like chicken, beef, milk and vegetables was also a determining factor in the decision to increase the cost of some of the foods and beverages available at the City Grill. Price increases have occurred, but not to the entire menu.
“We will never raise the price of 100 percent of items on our menu. We understand that many students are on a budget,” Ruzak said.
“How ironic that prices would go up during the part of the year when attendance is at its highest at RCC, and not during the summer or the winter,” said a student athlete as he stood in a long line at the City Grill, awaiting to purchase two Gatorades and a CLIF Bar after a hard team practice.
Although some students at RCC are not aware of the price increases at the City Grill, many who are aware, express discontent. Many students juggle multiple responsibilities daily like work, class and sometimes even raising children which quite often does not afford them the opportunity or time to think about themselves and pack a lunch. Many students go to the City Grill on campus instead.
“I think they should lower the prices because we are college students,” Dyondra Orduna, a student at RCC said. Many students at RCC also voice how the cost of gas to commute to campus, plus the endless task having to pay for parking after arriving, and now the price increases at the City Grill, are all contributing to a lot of student money being lost in attendance of this institution.
With price increases at the City Grill and overly crowded parking lots on top of long commutes, some students have found ways to save a buck. Leslie Kamoto, a student employee at the City Grill pointed out how a bottle of water costs $1.50 at the City Grill this fall semester, and how many students do not know that for one quarter, they can purchase a large cup, fill it with ice and then fill it with cold water from the drink dispenser that is across the way from the salted pretzels. Also, upon purchasing the large cup of water and ice, refills are free. In addition to the large cup of water, one may bring a personally owned container like a sports bottle and fill it with water and ice, free of charge.
So this fall semester and for semesters to come, in order to stay focused in class and not hungry, RCC students must plan accordingly.
“The price increases are not temporary, they will remain in effect,” Ruzak said.