Students, Bon Appetit tackle food theft at Reid

by Caitlin Tortorici

“I think it’s retarded that people try to steal food from Reid. Everyone who works here is getting pretty sick and tired of it. I feel like it’s gotten worse in recent weeks, and we’re beginning to crack down more,” said a Reid Café employee.

The first sign of such cracking down appeared Saturday, Oct. 14, on the café’s checkout counter. A note stated, “Please pay when you get your food. Thank you.”

But who is actually stealing? No one seems to want to admit it directly.

“One of my friends came up to me and admitted that she stole a parfait, but she only stole it because it was so ridiculously expensive,” said one student.

Several Whitties have expressed similar discontent at the increased prices of items at the Reid Café.

“My Naked juice cost me $3.99. I feel thoroughly ripped off,” said first-year Sarah Trowbridge.

“I’m pretty skeptical of the ‘market-price’ salmon,” said sophomore Megan Duffy. “You don’t realize it’s well over 10 bucks until you pay for it.”

“I just don’t know what makes the parfaits so expensive,” said sophomore Kayla Cooper. “I know yogurt and blueberries aren’t expensive—and lord knows granola isn’t; we’re in granola central.”

Sophomore Elliot Okantey attributes rumored theft to this raise in prices. “In my training as an economist, I have been taught that inflation is simply a reality we must deal with. This is why I can excuse the hike in prices. However, they failed to increase our flex dollars to account for inflation also,” he said. “My flex dollars are buying less than they did last year, and will buy less next year than they buy today. It’s unfortunate because I know many students prefer to eat at Reid.”

Why do students prefer Reid to the dining halls?

“I like the food at Reid better just because it’s prepared individually and there’s a decent array of options. At Prentiss or Jewett you don’t necessarily know what you’re getting on any given day,” said sophomore Wes Price, a server in the Prentiss dining hall.

Sophomore Kellie Wutzke seconds Price’s emotion. “I live for the chili and the Taste of Asia,” she said.

But food isn’t all that keeps this girl-on-the-go flexing her swipe-card. “The cooks are half the reason I go to Reid,” said Wutzke. “They write on my pizza box and they know to make me tea before I even get to the café. They’d probably hug you if they weren’t busy working.”

An off-campus employee who often works evening shifts, Wutzke depends on Reid for her 8 p.m. dinners. “I can buy a meal whenever I want and I can get homework done while I eat. The dining halls are always too loud and over-crowded to get anything done,” said Wutzke. But Wutzke frets as much as any Reid fan that her flexing days are numbered. “I’m running out of money really quickly. It’s frustrating that they hype up flex because it’s tax-free; the taxes seem to already be included in the food.”

Wutzke is generally dissatisfied with the school’s meal plan options. “Meal plans in general seem like an unfair value, just because if I’m going to spend $2,500 on a meal plan, I’d rather just have $2,500 in flex, and that’s not an option, and that’s frustrating to me because that’s a fifth of my loan that I had to take out for school.”

Other students expressed similar dissatisfaction. “They need to have a meal plan that gives you less meals and more flex,” said sophomore Jesse Phillips.

Sophomore Amy Strauss agrees. “There’s just way too much money going to dining hall food,” said Strauss. “I can see why people would steal. The school is getting so much money from our meal plans anyway.”

Roger Edens, manager of Bon Appetit, addressed the consequences of stealing from the Reid Café or the dining halls. “While I am not aware of any students being expelled from Whitman for stealing from the café or the dining halls alone, I do know that this kind of behavior has in fact figured into the consequences the Dean of Students has doled out,” said Edens. “Usually, stealing from the dining halls or the café is only one small part of the behavior that the Whitman community finds objectionable. The victim of this kind of theft is not Bon Appetit but rather the Whitman community. Privileges are taken away, prices rise at rates higher than inflation, policies changed, et cetera.”

Senior Lillian Peterson agrees that nothing positive will come of stealing from Reid. “If people steal, Bon Appetit will only continue to raise their prices,” said Peterson.

Students have come up with ideas to improve the meal plan, such as including a plan with fewer dining hall meals and more flex dollars, or a plan that allows students to use the same account for the dining halls and the Reid café.

Sophomore Rafael Klein offers another possible solution. “Stores around town should let us use our swipe cards to purchase food. Students would go into town more, and the Walla Walla economy would probably improve,” said Klein.

No comments have yet been made by Bon Appetit managers regarding these suggestions.

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