Two weeks into the fall semester, several University of Connecticut students say they are having suboptimal experiences in the dining halls. Lines and wait times are longer than usual, food runs out quickly and silverware is not always available.
Of the long lines, Mike White, senior associate director of Residential Dining, Retail and Catering, says, “This happens each beginning of the semester.”
White said new students usually follow the WOW schedule for their first few days on campus and get used to eating dinner early.
“They stick to that [schedule], causing long lines,” said White. “We encourage students to go [to the dining halls] at different times.”
“We’re also having two years of new students entering the dining halls right now,” White said, referring to the sophomores who could not eat in any dining facilities on campus last year.
One main reason for the dishes running out of food so frequently is that students take advantage of the to-go containers, according to White.
To-go containers were used to serve food to students last year. Although dining facilities are now operating at full capacity, to-go containers are still available for students to take out.
“Many students are not ready to sit in a packed dining hall with COVID still here,” said White. “Dining halls are open at 100% capacity, and that’s not an optimal thing for everybody. So we decided to keep to-go containers.”
According to White, students are filling their to-go containers with too much food, resulting in not as much food left for other students to eat.
Food that runs out is always refilled, but students will just need to wait a few minutes, since it takes time for the food to be made, White says.
“Would you rather have something fresh and wait five minutes, or something sitting there an hour or two?” said White.
As for silverware, White says it needs to go through the dishwasher two times for proper sanitizing, which is why it might take a while to restock.
However, students have the option of using plastic utensils whenever silverware is not readily available in the dining halls.
“We were instructed that it’s okay to use plasticware as a backup,” said White. “It is actually sustainable to switch from China to plasticware.”
White also referenced the current staffing levels as an additional factor for longer wait times.
“The food service industry is struggling everywhere to find labor,” said White. “We need more student employees.”
Dining Services has been actively hiring employees since June. They recently placed QR codes in dining facilities across campus to make the application process simpler for students.
Students interested in working for Dining Services can apply and find out more on the JobX student employment website.