Nicer At Nisa?

Mark Lindsay/Flickr

Recently, the York Student Think Tank produced a report on student nutrition throughout campus. They didn’t find anything too shocking, like that the average York student survives on helium and adrenaline pills, or that Vanbrugh residents swallow six ducks in their sleep per year. Instead, they found out that work can affect our eating habits, that students prefer easy, grab-and-go food to hot meals (quelle surprise) and, most damningly, that “there is an overwhelming dissatisfaction with Nisa and its food prices and quality.”

Complaints varied, when it came to the specifics. More than 80% said the food was overpriced, while two-thirds considered it low-quality (shame, really – you get free maggots and everything). Another little bugbear was the fact that the Nisa near Halifax actually charges more for some items than the one in Market Square, which reportedly causes “frustration and discontent among students.”

The report has its flaws, admittedly. The sample size for both surveys was significantly smaller than the Think Tank were hoping for, which does limit their capacity to speak out on behalf of every student at York. But it does match up with general opinion, at least from what I’ve heard – it’s fine for grabbing a few trinkets, but actually doing your shopping there’ll stick you quickly in agonizing debt.

…well, you know. More agonizing debt.

In fact, at this point it’s kind of been accepted. This is just the price you pay – destiny is calling you, at all times, and so are lectures and coursework and seminars, and if you want to go for the nearest option you’d better be prepared to pay extra for it.

Now, is Nisa responsible for making sure students manage to eat properly? Not really, no. Reasonable prices and quality are things the University should consider when handing out contracts, granted, especially with new shopping developments on Heslington East coming up, but Nisa’s a business and as such their purpose is to make money.

Besides, they can’t afford to be too heavily overpriced. York’s campus has a plethora of nearby supermarket alternatives, from ASDA to Morrisons to Aldi, and even if you can’t make it there yourself, delivery charges between a flat of six are negligible. As a result, Nisa does have some good deals – prices on spirits, for instance, and certain chocolates are the same or cheaper than at their local competitors.

But there’s still room to improve, and there’s also a business advantage to improving their quality and prices, too. The survey notes that a majority of its participants said they’d use Nisa more often if it changed its ways, especially due to its proximity.

Ultimately, Nisa taking the results of this study into account could well improve their sales in the future. Meanwhile if you, as a student, don’t like the place, don’t shop there. Vote with your wallet – it’s the best way to send a message.

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