MOORHEAD — The beginning of the fall semester brought many changes to campus dining services, including meal plans and a noticeable increase in prices at the Mmaize. These included major changes to the Flex Swipe policy this year. Students are no longer allowed to use flex swipes in the Mmaize during the hours when Anderson Commons is open.
The Mmaize offers students an alternative to the traditional, all-you-can-eat dining experience of Anderson Commons. Students can get premade salads, wraps and sandwiches as well as hot items like burgers or chicken strips.
“The Maize is mostly here as a convenience for people who aren’t looking for a whole meal or just want to grab something quick,” retail operations manager for Concordia dining service, Tony Boersma said.
The Maize is open until 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and until 8 p.m. on the weekends, allowing students to use a Flex Swipe after Anderson Commons closes for the night.
“There are athletic practices that last past when Anderson Commons is open. There are music ensembles and classes that last past that time,” Boersma said, “We still want students to be able to use their meal swipes”
The increase in prices has received criticism from some students.
“I really just feel like there’s no convenience at all. I can’t justify spending $15 to get a meal from the Maize,” sophomore Desi Hoppe said, “Even in the evenings when you can use your flex swipe, chicken strips and fries would probably be over the $9 limit so you would still have to use your dining dollars.”
In an email sent to students on August 22, the dining services team outlined changes to the flex swipe policy. The email also explained that the amount of dining dollars included with meal plans was increased by $75 per semester.
“(The hope is) the increased amount of dining dollars should allow for students to use options like the Maize more as the semester goes on,” the director of dining services, Janet Despard said.
Increased food prices are not unique to Concordia dining services. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in August 2023 stated that food prices saw an increase of 4.9% from July 2022 to July 2023.
“Unfortunately, we are not immune to inflation and rising costs. We have to operate on a balanced budget like any business,” Despard said.
In previous years, dining services would begin updating and setting prices for the upcoming year in the summer, Boresma said. After being decided on, the prices would stay the same until the following summer. Staff wages are taken into consideration and products are compared with other businesses when setting the prices.
“Last year, inflation was terrible. (The price increase) this year is a larger jump than usual because we didn’t correct for inflation last year,” Boresma said.
Both Despard and Boresma mentioned a new plan to do smaller, incremental price changes throughout the year.
“I’m definitely aware that the price of, for example, burgers, they’re a lot higher than they should be,” Boersma said., “Right now, we’re bringing in a bunch of different products to try and see if we can get that price down.”
Boermsa is testing out different products in an effort to lower prices. In terms of making changes, it is really about finding a balance between affordability and the quality of the products.
“We need to make sure there’s that correct balance and we’re working on it,” Boresma said. “It just takes time.”