Dining Options Cut: Stagnant budgets result in reduced Grab & Go hours

Taylor Muthersbaugh makes a sandwich for a student at the South Dining Hall Grab & Go. Grab & Go locations have seen a cutback in hours because of financial reasons. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Hours at the University of Connecticut’s Union Street Market and Grab & Go locations have been reduced for financial reasons.

“Historically, Dining Services gets an increase from the Board of Trustees in our fees for increasing the cost of the meal plan, and this year we did not get that,” Dining Services Executive Director Dennis Pierce said. “So, literally we are working with the same revenue that we got last year.”

While the budget for Dining Services remained stagnant this year, the costs of food and employee labor continued to increase. With no budget increase or raise in costs for students, a compromise was necessary, Pierce said.

“Students have to realize that we are a business and we have to operate like a business and that may mean that, you know, we have to make adjustments in our staffing,” Pierce said. “And whether it be shortening hours or even cutting staff — where we have looked at our current staff and our student staff and such — we’ve cut hours because we have to make our budgets.”

Students have to realize that we are a business and we have to operate like a business and that may mean that, you know, we have to make adjustments in our staffing.
— Dennis Pierce, Dining Services Director

The new hours for the Grab & Go locations are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday for South, Gelfenbien Commons (Towers) and Northwest. Putnam’s Grab & Go hours are from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

The Student Union’s hours, changed last spring semester, are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.

Pierce listed alternative options available to students with meal plans including full access to all eight dining halls or using points at Chuck & Augie’s after 3 p.m. There’s also the bagged food policy that allows students with class or work conflicts to complete a request for a pre-packed meal.

The general consensus among students was they were unaware of the time changes and, therefore, unaffected by it.

Nicole Gerardin, a fifth-semester English major, said she hadn’t noticed a difference in hours from last year.

Wyatt Mund, a freshman digital media art and design major with a concentration in 2D animation, said the new hours didn’t affect him because he had many other food options across campus.

Some students did express their concerns with the new hours. Ryan Ramos, a fifth-semester molecular and cell biology and psychology double major, said the change in hours made it difficult for him to get food on days when he has classes back-to-back.

“We’re still working with the same revenue that we got last year because we didn’t get all the increases that we would have hoped to have gotten,” Pierce said. “I understand from the University for all the right reasons — to make it easier on students and not have to pay a larger fee — but on the other hand, it’s like a give and take here.”



Emma Casagrande is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.casagrande@uconn.edu