The University of Connecticut’s Dining Services is one of the largest in the nation, but it still looks to focus on the needs of individual students, according to executive director of Dining Services Dennis Pierce.
Dining Services is owned and operated by UConn, making it unique from many other dining services at colleges and universities across the nation. Pierce said he feels that students may not know exactly how large Dining Services is.
“I think students don’t realize how large we are,” Pierce said. “From a labor perspective, we have approximately 450 full-time employees, and we are one of the largest employers of student employees on campus; we’re employing about 1,200 students.”
To highlight the size of UConn’s Dining Services, Pierce provided statistics regarding the amount of product purchased in a given year. For example, they purchase approximately 624,600, or 52,500 dozen, Connecticut local eggs for students on campus. When students learn about these statistics, Pierce said they’re often surprised.
“A lot of students don’t have access or don’t really know what we do as an organization, and we talk about things like the volume and the quantities and it surprises people,” Pierce said.
Despite the size of Dining Services, Pierce said he encourages students to approach them with individual needs and concerns. Pierce said Dining Services may be large, but that does not mean they can’t attend to the needs of the student body.
“People cannot forget the fact that no matter how big we are, we have the ability — and this is what helps us being self-operated — we have the ability to meet the individual student need,” Pierce said.
According to Pierce, a mantra that Dining Services lives by is “Getting a college degree is hard enough, finding food shouldn’t be,” showing their perspective on their duty to students. To best help students, Pierce says that students need to move past apprehensions they may have about approaching dining hall staff when they have a concern.
“What I can’t figure out is why does a student feel uncomfortable going to a supervisor or a manager that’s working the floor and asking for something or other?” Pierce asked. “Students have to get beyond that because they’re a paying customer, and they have to think like a paying customer.”
Thomas Alvarez is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.