Five dollar lunches will feature in the re-developed Union Court, ANU has promised. The redevelopment will also feature a supermarket “comparable in size to [the supermarkets at the] Ainslie or Lyneham shops”.
At a recent forum, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Marnie-Hughes Warrington explained that a greater variety of food prices and options will be available in the new student centre. “Most options”, she said, will be concentrated at the “lower end of the price pyramid”. Students have complained this is not the case at the Pop-up, which lacks budget options.
When asked by Observer to offer a specific lower end price, Hughes-Warrington promised the baseline would be “five dollars”. A significant variety of $5 lunch options would make the new Union Court cheaper than the old one, where the cheapest lunch options were roughly $6.
Hughes-Warrington was unclear about how such a drop could be achieved, but confirmed that there would be vending machines and a small supermarket. Hughes-Warrington highlighted that the store will be roughly the size of a suburban IGA, with similar pricing. When asked what constitutes a “lunch” the Deputy Vice-Chancellor refused to make specific promises, but assured students it would be a “full, regular lunch”.
Average lunch prices in the Pop-up are currently almost 50% more than in the old Union Court. Hughes-Warrington acknowledged the difficulty of this situation, but emphasised the variety in terms of dietary requirements and food options. Students, including ANUSA representatives, have previously complained the Pop-Up is financially out of reach for some students. The ANU Education Operational Plan proposes to increase low SES student numbers to 1.2% between 2012 and 2020, and reduced lunch prices in the new development would make store bought lunches a more feasible option for students with lighter wallets.
The question of what constitutes a $5 lunch, and how it will be achieved, will likely remain until the redevelopment opens in early 2019. Until then, packed lunches, the bakery, and $4.50 empanadas provide the best options for students on a budget.