As I’m walking home from the Oracle office at 9:30 p.m. on a Monday night, I hear my stomach grumbling. Every dining location closed a half hour ago, so I have to weigh out my limited options — ramen noodles in my dorm or a visit to the typically empty Snack Shack. Frustrated and upset, I’ve decided to shed some light on a prevalent issue in my and many students’ everyday lives.
Social media loves to glorify issues. Students will combine forces on the app YikYak to discuss their unfiltered thoughts through anonymity. In recent weeks, the app has had massive amounts of attention towards dining services and their opinions on how it’s handled. In addition, people were posting and spreading rumors on the app about exposing certain dining workers’, although their claims have yet to be proven true.
I spoke with Steven Deutsch, Executive Director of Campus Auxiliary Services to get a deeper understanding as to what’s going on behind the scenes. He exclaimed that there is a “desperate need for workers” and it’s a struggle to maintain work ethic because they’re so short staffed.
“There’s always issues, the glaring issues, the ones that you know, have really been tough,” Deutsch explained. “The last two years the issues have been the staffing and the lack of students. Right now we have 2,400. In a typical year, we have about 3,000. So that’s 600 people that we are not feeding, we are not collecting money from and that just makes the budget tighter. So that means less food is offered, fewer hours are offered and because of staffing, everything is stretched really, really thin.”
Although the issues with staffing are prevalent, the food they produce often leaves me with a stomach ache, no matter what I’m having. Last semester, I would frequently go to Peregrine and have a pleasant time, however there have been some prominent changes affecting my experience. For starters, there seems to be no variety in the menu. The menu for the last few weeks has remained stagnant, I asked Deutsch if this was intentional and was informed that they’re “focusing on just making sure food is available to the maximum extent [they] can given the circumstances.”
I won’t say everything at Peregrine is bad, there are actually some things I find myself craving, but only if they’re done correctly. For instance, the chicken salad, on a good day, is phenomenal. My friends and I will let each other know if it’s being served so we can all enjoy it. But lately when we get to the sandwich station, we’re greeted with an oily, separated mess of a chicken salad. The constant sway of quality food to futuristic slush is exhausting.
Students expressed their concerns for lack of healthy options on campus. A student, who asked to remain anonymous, explained that at Peregrine, “breakfast is only omelets, and dinner seems to only be burgers. The variety of the on campus restaurants is completely fine, but when it comes to the dining hall I’m always disappointed.”
There used to be a variety of different options available — pancake and waffle bars with various toppings, a selection of sandwich and salad toppings and equally as delicious vegetarian and meat dinner options. “Everywhere you go it’s the same carbohydrate enriched foods,” said the student. “It is unfair to students that they are paying all this money to eat and are only offered the same 3 meals of unhealthy food.”
Hand-in-hand with these issues, it’s difficult to obtain the food that is offered to us on campus. The campus uses the app GrubHub to allow students to place orders prior to arriving at the dining locations.
“There have been plenty of times that I have had to wait an extra twenty to thirty minutes for my food to be ready after already getting a notification that it is done,” said the student. “There have also been plenty of times that I’ve arrived to pick up my food and the workers tell me that they’re all out of stock of what I ordered.”
As a reality, we’re stuck with a dining plan with issues and dining workers who’re understaffed. Although this article can’t solve these issues, it can bring awareness. I’ll still continue to go to Peregrine, but it won’t be without a stomach ache.