Tight economic times mean more belt tightening across the board, and that includes adjusting your eating habits. Fewer people in our area are spending lunch breaks eating out. Lately, the lunch room in the admin building at Cape Fear Community College has been a bit more crowded. Christina Greene, CFCC employee, said, "I mean, we would all rather go to one of these restaurants downtown everyday. But, I mean, you can't afford it anymore." So Christina Greene has resorted to brown bagging it, and so have many of her co-workers. They estimate lunch out on the town in Wilmington costs at least an extra $5 to $8 dollars a day, which is a luxury few can afford. CFCC employee Justin Floyd said, "Gas is really expensive. Gas is more than a gallon of milk now. So there's one reason. You want to save a little bit of that lunch money, put it in the gas tank." CFCC employee Kim Lawing said, "We could probably save 70 percent of our lunch bill by bringing our lunch -- Easy." And with more people choosing to stay at the office for lunch, downtown restaurants are starting to feel the pinch. Darrian Whalen, Copper Penny, said, "A bunch of our repeat customers come less than normal. Instead of coming four times a week -- maybe once or twice a week." Gas prices have increased food prices. For Whalen this means more overhead and ultimately, less profit. "Our prices have gone up for our products. The less frequent people come out to eat lunch, all in all, it takes a burden on us," said Whalen. Whalen said he has noticed the lunch crowd has thinned most over the past month. He said he hopes things will pick back up as the summer progresses.
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