Following students’ complaints, Sodexho Dining Services has changed its policy at Eickhoff Dining Hall to make food immediately available at 4 p.m. just as dinner charges begin. The policy was put into effect Nov. 10.
In the past, students who paid for dinner between 4 and 4:30 p.m. were not guaranteed to find food ready for the taking because the different food stations at Eickhoff required time to set up between the end of lunch and the beginning of dinner.
Explaining the process prior to Nov. 10, John Higgins, general manager of Sodexho, said, “There is a turnover period between lunch and dinner. Each station goes down for about a half hour and then they set up for another meal, but they should all be up and running by 4 o’clock.”
That half-hour setup period between lunch and dinner has been wiped away with lunch stations now turning immediately into dinner stations at 4 p.m.
“The students were complaining that we close down at 4 (p.m.) and there was no food,” Bertha, a Sodexho employee who works at Eickhoff, said. “Our manager told us that we don’t shut down. So now we don’t close.”
The old layover period between lunch and dinner meant students planning an early dinner would have to wait until the stations were set up.
Even worse, some students said that while sometimes the food was ready to be served, they were still forced to wait because Sodexho employees said they were told by managers not to serve dinner until 4:30 p.m.
“Even at 4:20, I’ve gone into Eickhoff and all the food is out with plastic lids on it, but the workers won’t take the lids off until 4:30 because their managers wouldn’t let them,” Michelle Blakely, junior secondary education/English major, said. “That’s unfortunate because I have class at 5 p.m.”
Under such circumstances, students paid upon entering the hall, but the food they paid for was nonexistent, limited or unavailable.
“If they’re going to charge dinner prices, all of the dinner food should be available,” Blakely said. “Eickhoff is supposed to serve a variety of food, but at the early dinner time, they wouldn’t have that variety and it was disappointing.”
Higgins agreed that the students had a right to object, recognizing their right as consumers to demand quality food and service.
“There shouldn’t be anyone telling you that if there’s food there, you can’t have it,” he said.
“I come (to Eickhoff) and expect the food to be there and when its not, it’s frustrating,” Brandon Burke, sophomore criminal justice major, said. “But today the food was out and it was OK,” he said, after the change was implemented. The change is not enough to satisfy some students like Blakely, though.
“I’m glad that they complied with our complaints, but I’m sure it won’t be long before students will have something else to complain about,” she said.