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I’ve had it with the Intel Cafeterias. Full boycott in effect.

My relationship with the cafeterias at Intel’s Jones Farm campus (where I work) has been declining for a while. Or, more specifically, with the company that runs them, Bon Appetit (warning: Flash crap and music on their site). I’m now officially boycotting them.

At first is was just the constant price increases – every few months, the price for everything would just creep up a little. Way faster than the rate of inflation. 90 cents for a bag of chips. A buck thirty for a Rice Krispie Treat. Eight bucks for a salad (as reported by Michael Brito).

Then there’s the guilt trip they try to put on you. There are always posters and table tents and all kinds of stuff all over the place about how you’re killing the Earth if you don’t eat the nice, sustainable, locally grown, Gaia-approved stuff that they serve. Maybe that’s why they keep raising prices – all that fancy organic local stuff must be more expensive. Nevermind the fact that I always felt like they were browbeating me for my eating habits. I don’t want a sermon from the cafe. I just want lunch.

Earth Day was the worst. It was one of the few days that I decided to go over to the JF5 cafe for lunch. They have a grill there, and I can get a cheeseburger and fries for lunch, without having to leave campus. It was a circus on Earth Day – they were charging extra for paper cups, had a big display showing “this is how much cardboard JF throws away every day!!!1!” It was a Big Deal(TM). I got in line for the grill, and when it came my turn, I asked for a cheeseburger. Only to be told that they weren’t serving beef that day. “Why not?” I asked. “Because it’s Earth Day” I was told.

What? What does beef have to do with Earth Day? I still don’t know. The best I can come up with is that cows contribute to global warming through their, um, methane gas emissions. But if that’s the case, wouldn’t it make sense to EAT MORE COWS?! That day, that’s what I decided to do. I jumped in my car, burned some gasoline to go to McDonald’s, and did my part to reduce greenhouse gases from cows by eating a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese. I’m happy to do my part. :-)

That was the last day I tried to eat a meal in an Intel cafeteria. Up until today, I’d still pop over there in the morning for an occasional bagel or a donut or something. But that’s been getting worse and worse, too. They’ve been stocking less and less stuff, with the end result being if you don’t get there bright and early (before, say, 8:30 AM), they’re probably going to be gone. I’d understand if they just occasionally sold out, but it’s pretty consistent, and I’ve corroborated it with others who have noticed the same thing.

The last straw came this morning. I was quite hungry, hadn’t had breakfast, and it was 9:30 AM or so before I got a chance to walk two buildings over to see about getting something to eat. When I got there, the donuts, bagels, and other breakfast items were completely gone. “No problem” I think. “I’ll just get a string cheese or something.” Nope – the cooler case was completely empty, too. I was pretty hungry, and didn’t want to waste the trip, so I ended up with a bag of chips and a Rice Krispie Treat, both priced about a quarter more than if I had bought them from the vending machines. *sigh*

So, I’ve decided to expand my cafeteria boycott, and just not go there anymore. I’ll go out for lunch, or just skip lunch (which I do half the time, anyway). Burn a little more gas, probably eat a little less healthy, but I’ve had it with them, and I’m voting with my wallet.

I realize I’m complaining about pretty petty stuff here. Please take this in the spirit it’s intended – I’m venting, ranting. Not expecting to change the world. On the other hand, I’d love to hear any “you think YOU’VE got it bad” stories in the comments. Let’s commiserate! :-)

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11 thoughts on “I’ve had it with the Intel Cafeterias. Full boycott in effect.

  1. You think YOU’VE got it bad …

    … I have to walk all the way to the JF3 cafeteria to get my free soda while you only have to walk around the divider. No fair! ;-)

  2. @Brent – yeah, but the free soda around the corner only works about half the time – it’s frequently out of syrup, or CO2, or something. But I left that part out of my rant, lest people think I was REALLY ungrateful, complaining about the free soda machine that’s 15 feet from my desk. ;-)

    In fact, part of this rant was fueled by the fact that I hadn’t had any sugar or caffeine yet this morning, because the !@#$% machine was out of syrup…

  3. Lee Machen says:

    Boy, I can’t wait to get back to cozy JF2 in a few months…

    It could be worse though. Lunch options in my corner of Dublin consist of Spar (http://www.spar.ie/, think 7-11 or Circle-K) or the chipper on the corner called Morelli’s. A chipper is either a poor burger or a big piece of batter dipped fried fish, and fries (chips) that usually come with some kind of mayonnaise or curry sauce, oil and salt. It’s so bad for you nobody goes to Morelli’s more than once a week, the Dart gets us the rest of the time.

  4. I’ve been at leased buildings for the last 3 years and the cafeterias there are even worse (although the help staff is better). I’ve been boycotting them for about 3 years now mostly due to pricing, but occasionally have to break down in extreme circumstances.

    I had a great laugh reading your post – Thanks Josh!

    Viva Brown Bags!!!

  5. its not much better in NM. They did start giving us a discout of 25% from recycling funds. But the food sucks just as much. Here they have signs proclaiming how much better the foam containers are than paper containers. I suspect that they are really better because they are cheaper.

  6. Brian Mangold says:

    Mon Ami, Bon Appetit sure has a good thing going for them. Their contract must be rock solid for them to have a campus full of Intel employees leaving feeling raped every day and still maintaining Intel-subsidized hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place.

    Interesting, though, the guilt trip they’ll lay out simply for asking what prompted the latest round of price hikes. I thought I was going to get my food spit on the last time I asked. (Words to the wise: Never ask the cook. He knows your opinion. He doesn’t want to hear it. Stuff it, order, and get back to work.)

    However, I still yearn for my Intel addiction: The Hash Crash. It’s been nearly a year since I left for school, and the DT’s still come on once in a while. I think those night shift short order cooks would put anything–dirt from the ground if you really wanted it–into that sumptuous pile of myocardial infarction. Oh, how my left shoulder aches in yearning for just one more…

    (Incidentally, I think in Cook-ese “Light on the oil” merely means “Don’t float the eggs on the grill”.)

    Say Hi to Rachel and the kids for me.

    Cheers

  7. It’s been a while since I have worked at a place with a cafeteria, but I have always worked at places with overpriced vending machines full of snacks. I find that a good alternative is a stroll through the bulk-bin aisle at Wild Oats (or similar.) It is a great place to pick up cheap snacks to keep at your desk. The back of my filing cabinet has little tupperware canisters with trail mix, dried tart cherries, chocolate-covered almonds, dried fruit, and black licorice candies. Hey, most of those are healthy, too.

    Occasionally, I will buy a bulk box of the very same snacks that are in the vending machine and leave them, for sharing, on my desk or just outside my door. It really brings coworkers together when you’re gathered around, munching on the very same peanut butter cups that are in the vending machine at a crazy-insane price. Eventually, most everyone chips in at one point or another and brings in their own unique and favorite bulk-box of vending machine products so that one person isn’t buying over and over again.

  8. Jerry says:

    I only allow myself 25 min. to 30 min. lunch breaks so I end up eating in the cafe daily. My poor wallet feels raped everytime. I should just start brown baggin’ but I forget every night to make a lunch.

  9. I worked at Intel for 6 years, and maybe ate in the cafeterias a dozen times. The food was overpriced, but even worse, it wasn’t good food. I don’t mind paying a little more, but it has to be good. I managed to brown bag with leftovers every day.

    Now that I work downtown, I almost never bring my lunch.

  10. Hey Josh, the link between beef and global warming is basically the result of studies like this one which show that beef production is perhaps not the most sustainable of activities, mostly because of energy costs of producing and shipping cattle feed. The simple way to think of it is that cattle are big animals, they take a long time to grow until they reach harvestable weight. They have to eat many times their weight in feed, and this multiplier is greater than for smaller animals like chickens.

    It’s a pity that nothing on a chicken tastes anywhere near as good as a good ribeye steak.

  11. Gerry Van Zandt says:

    Intel’s cafeteria was way overpriced and it got progressively worse over the 9 years I was there. I’m happy to report that HP Vancouver’s cafeteria is subsidized and just as good as JF3 cafe was, but a bit smaller. A cheeseburger is only $2.33, for example. Cheeseburger, fries with 32 oz soda: $5.06 including sales tax.

    You’d be at $8-9 at Intel I’d bet.

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