UW Dining Pricing

UW Dining is a part of HFS, a self-sustaining department of the UW. Being a self-sustaining department means that we rely upon our resident housing fees and dining sales to cover our operational costs, rather than dollars from the UW’s general budget. As a part of the UW, we are also a nonprofit entity; our goal is to provide a service to the campus community, not make a profit.

How We Set Our Prices

To cover the cost of our operations, UW Dining uses an industry-standard practice for determining prices—we set a food cost percentage and a margin. This means we base the final selling price of an item on the amount we’re paying for it, ensuring it is always a certain percentage of that final price.

For example, food that we purchase, prepare and sell will have a food cost of 39% and a margin of 61%. That means for every $1.00 you spend, $0.39 covers the food cost. So what about the other $0.61? Here’s a breakdown of what it pays for:

Dining Dollar 2016-17

It is important to note that the example above is typical of the food we prepare on campus. For packaged items like a bag of chips or bottled soda, our margin is typically lower, while our food cost is higher. That’s because the food is not prepared by our culinary staff, thus the percentage going toward labor can be less.

Why Our Prices Change

All the items sold can be broken down into two types of products: packaged/premade and prepared. A bottle of Sprite, a bag of chips, a banana and a Blazing Bagel are examples of packaged or premade items. These prices are adjusted as needed unless we can establish a contract with the manufacturer or supplier. We have many contracts that help keep our pricing stable, such as with Coke and Blazing Bagels. Depending on the terms of the contract, our suppliers may adjust their prices, but this is typically limited to twice per year (usually August and December). All other items are adjusted weekly, based on what the manufacturer or supplier charges us for the product. In our Express Markets and the District Market, the majority of items are packaged or premade, which means they have the most price changes. Sometimes prices do go down but, unfortunately, in today’s economy, they usually are increasing.

The other type of product we sell are the items we make here on campus. Examples include: a Bay Laurel To-Go sandwich, a slice of Pagliacci pizza, DUB Street Burger fries or a meal from The 8 at McMahon Hall. All of these items are produced by our culinary teams. Most of these menu selections have a set price for the year unless we experience a drastic variation in our raw ingredient cost. So every day at Firecracker, the Crispy Orange Chicken will have the same price.

However, when we have rotating menus, we set the price for the meal based on the cost of the ingredients at the time we buy and prepare that item. For example, a smoked salmon fettuccine dish may go up or down in price from one week to another at Abundo, depending on the market price for salmon.

What We Do to Keep Prices from Changing

Because we want to provide dining value to the campus community, we are always looking for ways to keep prices stable. Doing so is a complex process involving monitoring market pricing, managing our supply chain and negotiating new contracts with our suppliers. We are always looking for opportunities to operate more efficiently to help keep costs down while continuing to serve food that is both high-quality and affordable.

Our goal is to provide you with a quality and convenient dining experience, so you can concentrate on your educational goals. We provide you with several choices on what, where and when you want to eat, giving you the flexibility you need in your schedule and budget. We enjoy the opportunity to prepare your food and make it available to you, saving you time—you have the rest of your life to cook and clean, for now, leave that up to us.

Contact Us

UW Dining Administration
Phone: 206-685-4950
Email: uwdining@uw.edu

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