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Fall semester dining services update

September 17, 2021
Student wears a mask and carries a to-go bag lunch at a food serving station.The Bistro 1850 serving station at Douglass Dining Center. (University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

Staffing shortages at River Campus dining locations mean operational changes but a continued commitment to quality and service.

University of Rochester Dining Services is currently facing unprecedented staffing shortages at its River Campus locations and is making the needed operational adjustments to address these challenges, while minimizing the impacts to students on campus dining plans. The shortage of dining workers is not a problem unique to the University of Rochester; similar circumstances are seen at many colleges and universities—and more broadly food service industries—across the country.

“We continue to source new staff in an effort to maintain our essential operations and meet the needs of our undergraduate students,” says Cam Schauf, director of Campus Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations. “However, due to current staffing shortages, we have had to make several changes to hours of operation in some locations to consolidate dining staff, in order to prioritize our residential students. Currently, food and ingredient shortage is not a problem we’re facing, in part because we rely heavily on locally sourced, fresh items. Scheduling the needed staff to prepare and serve the food throughout many days is our biggest challenge.”

Schauf adds, “We are using all our available resources to create additional dining options and find long-term solutions.”

Operational changes

The revised hours and operational changes made to date are available on the Dining Services website.

The current closings are:

  • Roots and Shoots: A Monday–Friday operation open for lunch only
  • Faculty Club: With seating being used for students in Douglass Dining
  • Peet’s Coffee at Wegmans Hall
  • Southside Convenience Store/Market: A small convenience store serving the residence halls at Southside
  • Faculty Club

What has not changed

As part of the emphasis on putting undergraduate dining first, the quality of service and overall hours at the Danforth, Douglass, and Eastman dining centers have not changed, other than changing the start of lunch in Douglass from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and closing two of six stations at Eastman a little earlier than normal.

All food stations are open and feature hand-prepared dishes, and Dining Services menu options have been consistent since the fall opening. A few of the stations have become self-service in order to make them less labor intensive. For student-athletes and other students who tend to maintain different eating schedules, locations such as the Grab & Go and Hillside Market offer additional options for food pick-up.

Like all supermarkets and food retail stores, there are some ongoing supply chain issues in the University’s campus convenience stores and coffee shops, but these sourcing issues do not apply to the food or options at Danforth, Douglass, Eastman, or the Pit. Declining can be used at all the different dining services on campus, including Starbucks, Hillside Market, and on the Medical Center campus. URos, which are similar to declining, can also be used to order from many local restaurants.

“We are continuing to look at additional options for our students that will help maintain strong operations in our dining centers, and we are having conversations with student leaders on any additional adaptations we can make that will continue to meet their needs,” says Schauf.

Adjusting to the times

With Dining Services needing to temporarily consolidate some of its satellite dining operations, the lines at locations like Danforth and Douglass have correspondingly increased. To help avoid longer lines and wait times, Dining Services asks students to consider these non-peak times for eating on River Campus:

Breakfast:

  • Douglass: 7 a.m.–8 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.–9:45 am.

Lunch:

  • Danforth: after 1 p.m.
  • Douglass: 1:15 p.m.–1:45 p.m. and after 2 p.m.

Dinner:

  • Douglass: 5:15 p.m.–6 p.m. and after 6:45 p.m.

Friday lunch hours at all locations are generally operating with low volumes, and students can also use Danforth GrubHub and Grab & Go.

Looking ahead

There is no definitive timeline for when regular Dining Services staffing levels will return, but recruitment is ongoing. Most of the operational changes announced to date can be expected to remain in place for the fall semester.

“We have additional contingency plans ready to implement in the event that we cannot overcome these challenges in the short-term, but we are hopeful to resolve the situation,” says Schauf. “We are continuing to monitor the staffing levels and, should the shortage get worse, will share these contingency plans with the community prior to implementation. We are working all avenues of additional food service options, including adding student employees and working with local vendors to get services on campus.

“Our number one priority is ensuring all of our students have access to food choices and continuing to meet their dietary needs safely and to their satisfaction,” says Schauf.


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