Chartwells rolls back catering price hikes for student groups

Amid student outcry over unannounced, 300 percent price increases on snack menu items, PSU Eats announced it will be reducing all snack prices on the student catering menu to their fall term price and all past and current orders will be adjusted to reflect the change.

In an email to Student Activities and Leadership announcing the rollback, PSU Eats Resident District Manager Jason Boss said refunds will be provided to those student groups who need them.

“The snack menu price will gradually increase during the next academic year,” Boss said, “and during that time we will be working with SALP Leadership and our Contract Administrator to communicate each price update.”

Boss pointed to a clerical error in summer 2017, which caused incorrect prices to be uploaded to Chartwells’ system. After the error was noticed during the 2018 winter break, charges for snack food items on the student menu increased threefold, raising the price for items such as fries, veggie trays, chips and crackers.

Due to a contractual agreement between PSU and Chartwells, any group hosting an event in Smith Memorial Student Union or Viking Pavillion is required to utilize Chartwells’ catering services, unless their event meets cultural criteria that qualifies them for a waiver.

Student leaders from the Organization Budget Council, Portland State Programming Board and student government raised concerns when they first noticed the changes, which were unannounced and occured after student groups had already finalized their budgets for 2019–20.

“We should have been more proactive in communicating the price change and the reasoning behind it to our students and not just with our internal channels,” Boss’ statement read. “On behalf of all PSU Eats staff involved, we would again like to apologize to any students who have been negatively affected by this.”

In a press release shortly following the announcement, Associated Students of Portland State President Luis Balderas-Villagrana congratulated the OBC and student groups “for organizing and producing decisive action in the interests of students.”