High prices at Garrett not only hurt pockets, but hungry tummies, too

Kyle Hightower

Let me take you back to the scene of the crime.

It was about 1 p.m. on an random weekday afternoon last week, and I had just finished a test. A brother was hungry.

Walking along the catwalk outside of the fine arts center, I glanced at Garrett Food Court as an obvious and nearby choice to satisfy my midday hunger beast. Upon entering the food court area, I took great care in weeding out potential places of which to dine.

I settled on the “HomeZone” portion of the food court because I was definitely feeling like some mashed potatoes and mac and cheese would hit the spot.

But since I really wasn’t in a chicken kind of mood, I chose the “blue plate entree,” which happened to be roast beef on this day.

After pouring myself a Pepsi from the fountain machine, I reached for my wallet and went to the cashier. I pulled out a $5 bill thinking that would surely cover it.

Yeah right.

“$6.43,” the cashier said without hesitation.

I guess she sensed that I was more than a little perplexed by the damage of the bill, because she instantly began to offer an explanation.

“You got the blue plate selection, and you are paying with cash,” she said.

“So if I had a meal plan it would be cheaper?” I chimed back.

“No, you would still have to pay the difference for the roast beef.”

Only one word can describe the fleecing that went on that day and pretty much any other day I or anybody without a meal plan eats in Garrett Food Court – robbed.

And they aren’t even using a gun.

Think about that. I paid almost $7 for a piece of roast beef, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese?

Oops. I forgot, I got a drink too. That makes it all better.


I started thinking about it as I ate. For $7, I could have eaten all I wanted at the new Fresh Food Company down the Hill. But because I chose to stay on top of the Hill and exercise the convenience of a food concourse near most of my classes, I, in a sense, was being punished.

I only mention the Fresh Food Company because it is run by the same company (Aramark) that charges about $7 per cash-paying customer at its all-you-can-eat venue, the same as it does for its single serving food court across campus.

That’s not right. Especially when I can get the same kind of home-style meals at Garrett for $6 or $7 as I can get at Kentucky Fried Chicken, for example, for $5 and some change.

I could just break down and buy a meal plan, yes. But as I look at the amount of money I spend during the week on food, buying a meal plan isn’t that feasible for me.

Likewise, unless I am hungry enough for an all-you-can-eat trip to Fresh Food Company, paying $7 on a meal doesn’t make much sense to me either. And I don’t think I’m alone on this one.

The sad part about this whole thing is that I like eating at Garrett and at campus dining establishments in general. The people are great, the food is good and the places, with the renovations, have come to have a nice atmosphere.

But in nearly three and a half years at Western, I have watched the prices steadily increase behind only skimpy reasoning.

I can only imagine how the incoming freshmen that have to purchase meal plans at a minimum of $832 (according to Dining Service’s Web site) feel.

With tuition on the rise and the overall cost for a student to attend Western also going northward, I’d like to think that a guy could at least eat here for a fairly decent rate.

I guess not. And that’s pretty sad.

Kyle Hightower is a senior print journalism major from Paducah.

The opinions expressed in this commentary do not reflect those of the Herald, Western, or its administration.