Increase in tomato prices force Sharples cuts

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The effects of earlier hurricanes in Florida are making their way to Swarthmore, in the form of increased produce prices. The high cost of tomatoes has caused Sharples and Tarble to cut back, removing tomatoes temporarily from the deli and salad bar.

The problem started when hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne hit Florida just as farmers started planting crops. The result is that there is a reduced supply of numerous vegetables, causing prices to skyrocket. “In some cases, prices have almost tripled,” said Dining Services’ Linda McDougall in an email, “For instance, tomatoes usually run between $18-$24 a case on average. They are currently up to $60 a case.”

Sharples currently buys its produce from a New Jersey distributor named Gallagher’s. According to McDougall, the staff has checked out three other distributors to compare and has found that their prices were the same. “We are being told that prices should start going down after the holidays,” she said.

However, tomato lovers shouldn’t despair. “We are still using some of these high priced items, but using them in more creative and limited ways,” noted McDougall. She explained that tomatoes will remain missing from the regular salad bar, but will make an appearance at specialty salad bar.

While many students are upset by the cuts, they are generally understanding of the reasons. “I was surprised to see that there were no tomatoes, but I can’t criticize Sharples for not wanting to pay the higher prices,” said Shira Meyerowitz ’07. However, for some students it’s the same as usual: “I didn’t even notice they were gone until you mentioned it,” admitted Elizabeth Medina-Gray ’07.

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