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First-Class Vending Gets the Highest Bid

Valley College students get less coke for their buck.

By Antwone Mercer | Staff Writer
On October 12, 2011

Valley College students can expect to pay a quarter more for a bottle of soda after the college's contract with the Coca-Cola Company expired Sept. 24, prompting the Coke machines on campus to be swapped out Monday for dispensers owned by First-Class Vending.

"Coke had to pay to be able to stay on campus, but there weren't enough sodas being sold," said Raul Gonzalez, head of administrative services.

The nine Coke machines offered 20-ounce bottles of Coke products for $1.25 while First-Class Vending charges $1.50 for the same. The company outbid five other companies for a five-year contract, securing the campus $100 per machine plus 30 percent of their profits.

Seven of the nine replacement machines were installed Monday with two more left to be installed in the coming weeks. First-Class Vending's new dispensers add to the company's seven machines that were already on campus. In addition to Coke, Pepsi and other products are also available.

"I'm going to still buy even though the sodas are $1.50 now," said psychology major Jafet Escobar. "I like the way the new machines have a mixture of cans, snacks and bottles."

Following the shake-up, First-Class Vending is now the campus' sole proprietor, but the Monarch Café is taking advantage of the shift in vendors, introducing the Monarch Café cart, a mobile cart with food and drinks. While not offering bottled soda, the cart sales 12-ounce cans for 75 cents. The cafeteria itself, located north of Campus Center, sales bottled soda for $1.89, plus tax, and fountain soda, including 24-ounce cups for $1.75 and 32-ounce cups for $2.25, plus tax. The LAVC Bookstore, located in Campus Center, offers 20-ounce bottles of soda for $1.79, plus tax.

The reason for the inconsistent prices is because the Monarch Café, the LAVC Bookstore and the soda machines are all contracted out to different vendors who pay the campus to occupy the spaces.

"We have to mark it up to make a profit," said Larry Cantrell, food services director at the Café, adding that the typical mark-up is around 45 percent.

The campus plans to gradually install 28 more machines over the course of the campus' construction, which is slated for completion in 2014.

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