Dining Services considers combatting thefts with care packages

Dining Halls around campus have been using plastic utensils and paper plates. This goes against the schools ideas for lessening waste. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

University of Connecticut Dining Services is considering creating a utensil care package for first-year students in an effort to decrease silverware theft from the dining halls.

“What happens is that, and this is nothing new, students come in and they don’t think of forks and spoons from home and subsequently (they take them from the dining halls),” Director of Dining Services, Dennis Pierce, said.

Dining Services will be partnering with Residential Life to explore creating a kind of dining “care package” for first-year students, Pierce said.

“So, the thought is: what can we do, for first-year students, is to supply them with some kind of disposable knife, fork and spoon set up that is not expensive, which will forgo them feeling they need to take it from dining services,” Pierce said.

A few weeks ago, Brien McMahon Dining Hall temporarily used plastic utensils in the unit in response to students stealing utensils and a delayed shipment of replacement silverware.  

McMahon Area Manager, Joseph Ferris, ordered a new stock of silverware during the summer, when McMahon was servicing pre-season athletics, band camp and other student activities that were happening on campus before the official start of the fall semester. Ferris reported that 275 pieces of silverware had been taken from the dining hall since it opened during the summer.

Ferris ordered more silverware, but a delay in its arrival prompted him to supplement the utensils with plastic until the order arrived, Pierce said.

“The order wasn’t getting to him on a timely basis,” Pierce said.

The problem is something all dining halls have to contend with every year, Pierce said.  

In past years, ResLife has asked students to return any silverware or dishware they may have taken from the dining halls when they move out.

“We get a little bit back, but not a significant amount,” Pierce said of the collection efforts.

Pierce said there is also a significant number of cups stolen from dining halls during the course of the year.

“We always encourage (students) to use refillable bottles,” Pierce said. “I think that, definitely, (using) water bottles is the solution.”

After reviewing the numbers from all dining units, the theft problem is not as large as some may have perceived it to be, Pierce said.

“I don’t think it’s as bad as we think it is; it shouldn’t be done in the first place, but in the overall number of meals we’re serving, it’s not that big of a deal,” Pierce said.


Anna Zarra Aldrich is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anna.aldrich@uconn.edu. She tweets @ZarraAnna.