By: Sarah Lopez
The prices of Mesa Community College’s on campus dining options are the main reason students choose to eat off campus, according to Mary Cornejo, one of the assistant managers at the Cheba Hut location on Dobson and Southern.
Students at MCC have many choices as far as meals go.
The campus is equipped with two coffee shops, as well as the Thunderbird Grill, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Directly across campus on Southern Avenue are a Jimmy John’s, Cheba Hut, Pita Jungle, Village Inn, Hunan Express Chinese, and Lucky Star Chinese. Within the immediate area, there are even more fast food options, including two McDonald’s locations, a Taco Bell, Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, Orange Julius, and Starbucks.
“All of the nearby restaurants are in direct competition with MCC’s cafeteria” Cornejo said. “I understand that it’s much cheaper to go and eat off campus, and the quality is something people take into account too. When I was going to MCC two years ago, I only had to eat on campus once before I knew I would be walking across the street for my lunch break.” Cornejo said she sees an estimated 90 customers come through Cheba Hut on an average weekday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and many of them are students.
“It’s difficult to tell who exactly is a student, but backpacks seem to be a good indication, so based on that and the fact that so many customers walk in from just across the street, I would say about half of our customers are students. It’s been very good for business having a school right there, since students are hungry and wanting a good meal without paying an arm and a leg.” A six inch toasted sub from Cheba Hut costs between $4.50 and $5.20 before tax, whereas a comparable amount of food, such as a premade sandwich at the Thunderbird Grill, costs $6 before tax.
MCC student Jonathan Hicks believes it’s worth it to eat off campus. “I’m a guy,” he said. “I need lots of food for fuel, so I go where it’s cheaper of course. I usually hit up the McDonald’s for a Big Mac with some fries and a coke. Price-wise, you just can’t beat McDonald’s. Besides, nothing hits the spot like a Big Mac.” Hicks said he heard about the higher prices of on campus food, and did not want to look into the option.
Another MCC student, Haley Kaplan, said she prefers to eat on campus. “It’s really just a convenience thing. Is the price a little steep for what you get? Yeah, definitely; but being so busy as a student you tend to want to do what saves the most time so you can get on to more important things than food.” Kaplan explained that her lunch break is only 30 minutes long, and she’s willing to spend a little more if it means not having to miss any class time for going off campus to eat.
“We have plenty of students who take advantage of on campus dining” said John Stinson, manager of the Thunderbird Grill. “There is a steady flow of students coming in for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and many of them are frequent customers. We don’t feel the need to adjust prices because plenty of people eat right here. There would probably be more customers if we did drop the prices, there just doesn’t seem to be a need.” Stinson said the prices will likely stay the same for quite some time as long as people continue to buy food on campus at the current rate.