Comments on the Canteen and the Increase in the Meal Plan
At the end of March, current students found out that the meal plan is going to be increased from $100 to $300 per semester for the prospective students of class 2020. For now, only first-year students will pay more for the meal plan. In four years, when the future freshmen are going to be seniors, the increase will apply to all students. Still, for a period of time, upperclassmen will pay less than first-year students. What are some views on the canteen and the increase?
The increase provoked the current staff of the Student Government at AUBG to start a petition. Their goal is to balance the price-quality of food ratio. Karina Barambayeva, the current Vice President of SG, stated that they find “this novelty unfair and unacceptable, and the petition is the first step we are taking in order to change the situation.” SG has been introduced to many problems related to the canteen that students have experienced, including several food poisonings. All collected signatures will be presented to the current president of AUBG, Stratsi Kulinski “who has shown his support and interest to collaborate,” Barambayeva added.
Lyuben Popov, a second-year student, said that the quality of the food varies from day to day and sometimes it is very good but the meals are usually cold and tasteless. “The portions differ as well, which annoys the students very much,” Popov added.
Nadezhda Yankulska, a first-year student, agrees that there is no balance between the quality and the prices of the food in the canteen, especially compared to the variety of other restaurants in the city and the overall expenses of the students. Yankulska also disagrees with the standards of the portions. She suggests that students should be able to purchase half a portion because often a meal consisting of a main dish, a side dish, and a salad “is too expensive and is too much for one meal.” Yankulska is also dissatisfied with the preparation and the presentation of the rice, vegetables, and certain meals which obviously contain the cheapest ingredients. She believes the increase is implemented in order for the canteen to make profit.
“In a real-life situation (business classes teach us) such a restaurant would not exist because it has no place on the market,” she said. “I personally feel exploited because I am not capable of “eating” that amount of money with my eating habits and I am either supposed to eat excessively for the good of the canteen, or let the money be taken from my account with no use.“
Desislava Panayotova, a fourth-year student, said that even though people complain, the canteen is the only place on the premises of the university that offers diverse food. Panayotova suggests that more vegetarian meals should be included as well as more various salads because the meat dishes prevail.
Stela Ivanova, a third-year student, stated that the increase in the meal plan is “insane.” Not students themselves but their parents pay students’ expenses and fees at the universities. What is more, many students work abroad so that they can earn money to finance their education or buy things for themselves. According to Ivanova, they are obliged to pay for food at AUBG even though they can find the same things at more reasonable prices in other places. Rather than trying to attract more people with different financial capacities, the administration at AUBG seems to put up more and more barriers, she said. Ivanova suggests that the representatives of the café and of the canteen should not force people to pay for their products but instead figure out what kind of products they could offer to predispose students to eat there.
Sabina Wien, instructor of Bulgarian at AUBG, believes that the primary misunderstanding comes from the fact that students consider it an ordinary canteen. However, the Hungry Griffin cannot be cheap because it does not receive subsidies from the state, Wien said. It is also similar to a restaurant because of the variety of food it offers. In other places around the city, “for a mid-sized chicken döner and an ayran, one pays 4.20 levs. And that’s fast food.” Wien’s only suggestion is that the food should be warmer.
On April 14, a second-year student, who preferes to remain anonymous as to avoid any confrontations, found a nail wrapped together with a burger. The girl “was disgusted by this and couldn’t eat anything till the end of the day.” She said she would not eat at the canteen again and that she considers the increase unreasonable.
“I would definitely disagree with the meal plan for the Fall 2016. It is not fair to pay $300 to eat in the canteen,” she said. “First of all, there are many other places where you can go and eat at an affordable price. Second of all, it [the meal plan] is much higher than the price of the meal plans for the last years.”
The student reported the problem to Olga Draganova, the Dining Services Manager. According to the student, Draganova said that she had known there was a nail in one of the sandwiches but they hadn’t known in which one exactly. She apologized to the girl and offered her another sandwich.
Draganova confirmed that there was such an issue.
“We apologized, we refunded the student and we offered her another sandwich,” Draganova said.
Initially, the Canteen staff had not noticed a nail was missing but they tried to find it later on. Draganova said that such things happen and it is not something extraordinary.