Rises in food price an anomaly, says cafeteria director

Alex LaRocca '13 reads the new nutritional info provided by the cafeteria.

by Pat Millican ’15

Since returning from Christmas break, many students may have noticed the slight uptick in the prices of many items at the Wildcat Café in the amount of about five or ten cents. Judging by the resultant hunger strikes and violent rioting over the new food prices, The Eye thought it would be best to have an interview with Mr. Pietravoia, the director of the cafeteria, in order to put the students’ anxieties to bed.

As the man in charge of procuring and pricing our food, Mr. Pietravoia’s conundrum is this: Being a school whose lunches are subsidized under the Federal Lunch Program, Ignatius is legally obligated to conform to federal standards on not only portion size and content, but also pricing, when it comes to the food its cafeteria serves. Therefore, because the government mandates that all items must be sold at at least thirty-eight per cent above wholesale price as a means of ensuring that cafeterias break even with regard to profits (another requirement of the program), the cafeteria had to fall in line by raising prices on some items, especially the specialty burgers, which are now going for about a quarter more. This mandate, contrary to what one might expect as gas prices are rising, is the only reason for the price hike midway through the year. This is the first time in the seventeen years Mr. Pietravoia has worked here such a measure had to be implemented. An audit in January was the impetus for the increase.

Furthermore, Mr. Pietravoia takes pride in the self-sufficiency of our cafeteria. He made a point of explaining that the costs the cafeteria incurs—-repairs, new equipment such as the forthcoming addition of the salad bar, gas, electricity, and retirement and health care for its employees-—are covered entirely by the cafeteria’s patrons. This is an astonishing feat when one considers that the cafeteria spends only forty-two per cent of its revenue on labor. Simply put, says Mr. Pietravoia, “You guys are supporting your food services and giving back to the neighborhood by paying to employ people who live near school.”

Mr. Petravoia asserted there would be no more increases this year save a second Dust Bowl or an epidemic of vaccine-resistant cowpox, and that any future hikes would occur at the beginning of next school year. A final word of advice from the cafeteria director on how to beat the system and pay less for lunch? “Get the whole lunch; it’s the most economical.”