On my first stroll through the Student Activity Center- I noticed a phenomenon of higher than normal prices. For example, Oreo double stuff cookies were $8.27 on campus yet $2.50 at Target. Another example could be a half-gallon of milk, $3.37 on campus and $2.19 at Target and $1.99 at Stop and Shop.

Two products that I hold dear would be Gatorade G2 and Naked Juices. These items were $2.16 and $4.38 at SAC and $1.00 and $2.99 at Target, respectfully.

I continued this research even further and surveyed 26 items found in the Student Activity Center and published on the price and portion guide found on Campus Dining website. It was surprising to find out the average price premium was 42 percent higher than three local stores.

The demand for profits margins might just be the reason for the premium. From an economic standpoint, it is easy to increase prices if the demand is so high. At Stony Brook University, though, the Meal Plans Resolution Committee approves the prices for items carried during a formal bid process and only change with cost of living adjustments done every year. The Cost of Living Index includes home prices, doctor visits, hair cuts, movies, energy, blue jeans, bowling and apartment rent, but not food. This list continues at Bankrate.com. A more applicable index for the barometer of consumer prices would be the consumer price index. The Bureau of Labor

Statistics comments that the CPI is 1.5 percent. Thus far 2011 prices are just 1.5% higher than 2010. In a single year, this index gets ‘inflated or deflated’ monthly, but an average can begenerated from historical perspectives.

According to SUNY Procurement Guidelines, the campus must be able to justify and document the selection of the vendor and establish the reasonableness of the price. From a legal argument, one might call this situation price gouging.

According to New York Law, (NY GBS Law $396  NY Code- Section 396-R) “the amount of the excess in price is unconscionably extreme; or that there was an exercise of unfair leverage or unconscionable mean the amount charged grossly exceeded the price at which the same or similar goods or services were readily obtainable by other consumers in the trade-area.”

Perhaps this might give you a new perspective next time you visit the SAC to buy food.