The Board of Trustees approved a 3 percent increase for all meal plans at the University of Connecticut for fall 2017.
“This year there is an increase of 3 percent. This will cover increases in commodities, labor and overhead,” Director of Dining Services Dennis Pierce said.
Commodities cover all purchase expenses Dining Services incurs for food-related and non-food items such as napkins or utensils, Pierce said.
Labor costs cover wages and benefits for workers, Pierce said.
“Labor is twofold: it’s all the expenses that incur with hiring an employee and maintaining an employee with all the benefits they have. It’s not just the hourly wage,” Pierce said.
Overhead covers utility payments, facility charges to keep the dining units running and purchasing equipment, Pierce said.
The fee increases will help cover renovations to Whitney’s serving line, raises for employees and a new waste-disposal system, Pierce said.
“We’re looking at changing our waste system and that means retrofitting all of our waste rooms to accommodate a waste system that will enable us to have a closed loop waste system,” Pierce said.
Waste from the dining units will be turned into an alternate product or biodiesel fuel, Pierce said.
This project is only in its initial phases and it is unknown when it will be completed, Pierce said.
Last year, the Board of Trustees did not approve an increase for Dining Services.
“Last year they were not approved and Dining did not receive an increase,” Pierce said. “The cost of expenses increases every year so it was a challenge.”
There was a significant increase in board fees last year that drove the decision to not increase meal plans, Pierce said.
“It was the first time in my career at the university that that did not happen,” Pierce said. “But it was necessary there was a board increase, so it helped students by not increasing that year.”
The lack of an increase caused Dining Services to make choices in order to compensate the lack of increased funding.
“We made some choices, whereas we were going to have projects done within Dining Services, some minor renovations and we didn’t, our employees did not get a raise that year,” Pierce said. “We looked at various expenses that we had and cut back.”
Dining Services is not funded by the university, rather they operate using only the sale of meal plans and revenue generated within Dining Services, Pierce said.
“Students don’t realize that we are self-supporting and (have) no funding from the university,” Pierce said.
Dining Services operates as a business, Pierce said.
“In your operating piece, that’s significant because it is a business and we have to make sure we’re running our operations efficiently and that we’re good stewards,” Pierce said.