How much do you spend on food at university on average?
If it’s any more than eight dollars a day, then you’re spending over five hundred dollars each semester. Considering the tightness of students’ purse strings, one would think that Monash University would offer tenders for vendors who would sate students’ appetites with healthy, affordable meals. However, the options in the increasingly corporatized campus centre suggest that this is not a priority.
Before 2016, Clayton Campus had only one chain food store: the venerable Boost Juice. Healthy? Supposedly. Affordable? Not really, kind of a luxury (although very welcome on a hot March day). Since then, more than five chain restaurants have opened, and we get a sense of the luxurious type of business Monash wants to feed its students. Moreover, these restaurants present a luxurious lifestyle of studying at Monash to prospective students.
Subway was a shoo-in as the only multinational fast food chain some may consider healthy enough to avoid drawing scorn. Roll’d, Pappa Rich, Guzman y Gomez, and Snitchz all opened after the redevelopment of campus centre and all fit a specific market. Or should I say upmarket? They are premium brands with prices to match. The recent addition of these brands show the administration of Monash to be more concerned with puffing up its own prestige by having more premium options than filling mouths. These brands present an ultra-luxe lifestyle for students at the cost of affordability. Food-trucks that once proliferated Clayton Campus in 2015 were expensive too. They eventually stopped driving to Monash, presumably due to of lack of interest because of their expensive meals.
It seems that the restaurants currently occupying campus centre survive because of brand recognition and deep pockets.
Eating food is a necessity and options shouldn’t be limited to the wealthy. One in seven Australian university students skip meals because they can’t afford them, and hungry students don’t learn nearly as well as when they’re fed. If Monash University wants to provide the best education for students, they must provide options for affordable, nutritious food. They ought to better support student-led initiatives such as Wholefoods and Sir John’s Bar that exist for student’s needs, rather than for international corporations’ profit.
So next time you’re looking for a feed think about the message you send with your order: do you want to give money to those with already too much, or to those who are supporting you and your fellow students.