How Supply and Demand Effects Food Choice at Virginia Commonwealth University
Living in a free market economy, convenience is often a deciding factor in the choices we—as consumers—make every day. In the words of big time food executive Charles Mortimer, “Food, Clothing, and shelter [are] still important […]. But now there [is] a fourth essential element of life that [can] be ‘expressed in a single word’—convenience—spelled out with a capitol ‘C’” (Moss, 60). Shaped by the law of supply and demand, the cheapest and fastest in any business are, more often than not, the most successful. On campus, and more specifically VCU, college students are willing to sacrifice their health for the most convenient food options available. A good example of this sacrifice would be the relationship between the community of food carts sitting outside the singleton center for the performing arts and the arts students.
There are a series of food carts sitting outside the Singleton Center of the performing arts. While not all of them are there consistently, there are always at least two that come to meet the needs of the hungry arts students. The carts most frequently present are the: olio, alchemy coffee, and the kebab carts. Each of the carts stems from a parent company located in the Richmond area. When talking to most of the managers of the numerous carts, they said they come to this spot outside the singleton center not only because it is a good area to do business, but because it has consistently been a good area for a long time. Reasons for their absence were most often due to—but not limited to—special events in a different area that would raise more revenue, or the brick-and-tar stores needing them to stay in to help because of staff shortages.
Our free market/capitalist economy was built on the basic law of supply and demand. Explained in a Huffington Post article by Dr. Bill R. Path—president of the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology—the law of supply and demand simply states, “If you have a large supply of one item, the price for that item should go down. But if the demand for that item is high, the price for that item should also be high. So, consumer demand for a product affects its price, but demand also drives supply”. Using the skills gap as an example, Dr. Path describes how there are not enough graduate students to fill high-tech/advanced skill level jobs, making the demand for these workers great. This has not only produced high pay for the few who take these jobs, but has also sparked a closer relationship between higher level education and industry across the nation: one that promotes the hiring needs of industry. This has, as you may have noticed from the many television adds, created a new breed of online universities and fast paced course colleges capitalizing on the need for high-tech workers.
This law of supply and demand can also be used in regard to the community of carts outside the singleton center for the performing arts. For example, if all those carts could be much more successful somewhere else, then they could simply leave (unlike a brick-and-tar business). So I asked myself one simple question: why are these carts consistently choosing this location? When speaking to a few students on the subject, I discovered that this community of carts has been feeding many of the arts students since they have been at the university. One of these students, a 5th year senior, explained that he had remembered cart-influenced anecdotes being told by the upperclassmen as early as his freshman year. Needless to say, a decade of success in one area, when in a food cart, is golden when considering location. After observing cause and effect, the truth is, the arts students and faculty need to eat breakfast/lunch. Walking by these carts every day, they have discovered something: this community of carts is terribly convenient. These carts were made to service people good food, as fast as