HDH Receives Millions in Coca-Cola Sponsorship, Will Raise Price on Products 3 Percent Yearly

Connor Gorry / The Triton

Housing Dining Hospitality (HDH) signed a deal earlier this year that will provide them with more than $4.09 million in sponsorship money over seven years, while also raising the cost of all bottled Coca-Cola products to students by 3 percent every year for the next seven years.  

Public records obtained by The Triton show that HDH entered into a contract with Coca-Cola earlier this year, replacing Pepsi, which served as the campus’s official vendor of drinks like Naked Juice, Pepsi, and other products until 2017. The transition was made during Fall Quarter of 2016, with Pepsi products being fully removed by Winter Quarter.

Per the contract, HDH will directly receive $585,000 yearly for seven years in “sponsorship.” And if an extension is agreed to, HDH will receive $600,000 a year for years eight and nine. Under the terms of the previous contract with Pepsi, HDH did not receive sponsorship benefits, nor was there an agreed-upon annual raised cost on products.

Justin Glover, Director of Muir College Center and Muir Woods Coffee Shop, said that he was offered a chance to participate in the contract, but opted out because it makes no sense for students or small businesses on campus.  

“To me it’s a big question mark. I can’t accuse anyone of anything, because I don’t know where that money is going,” said Glover. “Once we saw that new contract, we saw that it didn’t benefit the college center, and it did not benefit the students to have this contract with a 3 percent increase on students and such exclusivity on products.”

In addition to the financial incentives, HDH will also receive 300 cases of 12 oz. company beverages and 300 cases of Dasani half liter water bottles yearly, to be used for any purposes they deem necessary except for resale. Because students buy fixed amounts of Dining Dollars, students will still pay the same amounts yearly. However, the change in prices will marginally impact their ability to purchase drinks more and more each year.

“In the context of food security, the increase of prices in the markets, which are already more expensive than regular, off-campus markets, [is] making it less accessible to students [and], for lack of better words, complete bullshit,” said Kiara Gomez, Associate Vice President of Food and Housing Insecurity. “It’s contradicting of the campus to be in support of basic needs work while allowing for food items to become more expensive in order to benefit HDH.”

In 2015, Associated Students of UCSD (ASUCSD) opened the Triton Food Pantry to combat undergraduate food insecurity and provide free food for students. 

Associate Vice Chancellor and Director of HDH Mark Cunningham did not respond to repeated requests for comment. In the past, Cunningham has been critical of the pantry’s existence. 

As of 2015, his responsibilities included housing over 14,987 UC San Diego students, staff, and faculty; managing over 5.3 million square feet of facilities contained in 400 buildings; and employing over 600 career staff and 1000 students. Apart from this, he signs off on campus vendor contracts relating to dining.

Campus Public Records charged The Triton $18 for records reproduction of the contract, which can be read in full here. Information the campus deemed sensitive has been redacted.

Gabriel Schneider is the News Editor at The Triton. You can follow him @gabemschneider.