By Samantha DeVeau
Thirsty for a soda? You might want to jump in your car and visit 7-Eleven, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) or Princeton University to score your caffeine fix while pinching your pennies.
Fountain drinks are more expensive at Rider than at other schools in the area. Compared to the price of beverages at TCNJ, Rider charges 25% more for a 16-ounce cup and 27% more for a 32-ounce cup. Both schools have exclusive contracts with PepsiCo.
“Fountain soda prices are set by Aramark, not Pepsi,” said Jill Shockley, director of Auxiliary Services.
She went on to say that Rider “conducted a competitive selection to choose its beverage vendor, and the Pepsi proposal was more competitive in both pricing and contributions.”
Scott Oswald, director of Aramark Dining Services at Rider said, “The beverage pricing is pretty straightforward. The bottled Pepsi products are established through the Pepsi contract. All of the other prices are negotiated between Rider Dining and the university, utilizing the local Consumer Price Index (CPI) and various local retail establishments as guides.”
A 16-ounce fountain drink from Cranberry’s or Andrew J’s costs $1.49 and a 32-ounce drink costs $1.89. If students are not using Bronc bucks to buy their drinks, a 7% tax is added to those prices.
Bottled drinks, including water, are $1.59 before tax in the on-campus stores. Convenience stores in the area carry the same 20-ounce bottles for about $1.79. The closest 7-Eleven, located down Route 206 from Rider, sells the Big Gulp fountain drink (32 ounces) for $1.27 before tax.
Princeton University, a Coca-Cola campus, also has cheaper prices for fountain drinks than Rider. Rider charges 19% more for a 16-ounce cup but only 5% more for a 32-ounce cup.
Vending machine prices are the same on all three campuses, $1.50 for a 20-ounce bottle, but the products vary. At Rider, most machines have Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Aquafina and Sierra Mist. At TCNJ, some vending machines offer Gatorade, Ginger Ale, flavored Aquafina and Mug Root Beer.
The price differences between campuses are easily seen, but not much else is clear in the “Cola Wars” fought between the beverage giants PepsiCo and Coca-Cola on college campuses across the country.
Rider and PepsiCo signed an exclusive 10-and-a-half-year contract that began in 2012 and covers both campuses. The final choice between Coca-Cola and Pepsi was left to a committee of 12 representatives including students, faculty and administrators. After presentations by both companies, the Rider committee voted 11-1 in favor of Pepsi.
Although the contract between Rider and Pepsi is confidential, the beverage contract between TCNJ and Pepsi, obtained by The Rider News through an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, showed significant funding and compensation paid to the college in exchange for becoming an exclusive Pepsi campus. OPRA does not apply to private institutions.
The three-year renewable contract between TCNJ and Pepsi shows that the college receives $42,000 in annual funding, which is broken up into three sections: $20,000 supports student life, $20,000 goes to athletics and $2,000 goes into the school’s internship program. The college also receives $80,000 annually to support academics and $10,000 for scholarship support. TCNJ is also paid an annual commission of $15,000 plus 40% from each soda sold from a vending machine on campus.
Pepsi provides TCNJ with product donations, Gatorade sideline kits, promotional kits, media support, “green support funds,” and pays for audit costs. The total value of the additional considerations is $16,275. In total, Pepsi pays TCNJ a minimum of $163,275 annually to be an exclusive Pepsi campus, and more once the vending machine commissions are calculated.
When asked if Rider receives the same types of funding and compensation, Shockley confirmed, “Pepsi does provide an annual contribution that supports athletics, sustainability and campus events,” but she did not reveal specific amounts.
“In addition, Pepsi provided a meaningful contribution to capital improvements on campus,” Shockley added, citing Pepsi’s sustainability initiatives such as the Dream Machine, which rewards students when they recycle and gives them a coupon for a Pepsi product.
Benefits of choosing water over soda
By Samantha DeVeau
In 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg started his own campaign against soda, but his idea was to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in order to help lower obesity rates in New York City. The ban was going to take effect on March 12, 2013, after being approved by the New York City Board of Health, according to The New York Times.
“Only establishments that receive inspection grades from the health department, including movie theaters and stadium concession stands, will be subject to the rules,” the article stated. “Convenience stores, including 7-Eleven and its king-size Big Gulp drinks, would be exempt, along with vending machines and some newsstands.”
However, because of the way the rules affect only certain establishments, State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling ruled against the ban, according to the Huffington Post.
Fountain drink sizes on the Rider, Princeton and The College of New Jersey campuses, all start at 16 ounces and go up in size. The Subway in Andrew J’s even sells a 40-ounce drink.
“While we do not have specific data related to the incidence of obesity for students who attend Rider University, during the past two decades, a significant increase in obesity and obesity-related disorders has occurred among people in their teens and 20s,” said Lynn Eiding, director of Student Health Services.
“The average number of calories contained in a 16-ounce bottle of cola is 201.3,” Eiding said.
“That’s the equivalent of approximately four small apples, two bananas, two and a half cups of fresh blueberries, two cups of grapes or four and a half cups of strawberries. If you prefer salty or sweet snacks you can have over six cups of popcorn, 32 small pretzel twists, or five Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies, four chocolate chip cookies, or two prepackaged 100-calorie packs of various cookie brands. In order to maintain our weight, calorie intake per day is based on several factors: age, sex, activity level and height. In order to lose one pound per week, we must deduct 500 calories from our diet per day. If you are interested in weight loss, and drink soda, what easier way to drop a few pounds than to simply switch to water or a refreshing low-calorie beverage?”