Dining Services pushes through staff shortage

Cam Beaver, Staff Reporter

   A new school year brings many challenges not just for students, but also staff members who provide campus services.

   Greg Rich, vice president of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s dining services vendor, A’viands, said in a campus wide email Oct. 1 that UW-Whitewater Dining Services has been going through a serious staffing shortage.

   The shortage is partly because some former student employees are no longer in their positions with dining services. The need for student employees has only increased as the academic year continues.

   “At the start of every school year, the dining services is usually short-staffed due to students graduating,” said Jeffrey Willis, residential executive chef.

“This year, Esker encountered a rather large student staff shortage, so incentives were created to sign up for work. First shift received a wage premium of $9 an hour, and second shift [received] $10 per hour.”

   Willis has been in his position at Esker since January 2018. His average day involves hiring new student workers, listening to students’ concerns, controlling the cost of food and analyzing finances.

   The wage increases have helped bring in new employees, but those efforts have not solved the problem entirely.

   “We have seen a positive impact due to the wage increase, but we still need quite a few student workers for various positions throughout the campus,” Willis said.

   UW-W Dining Services is responsible for managing 14 campus locations. Esker Dining Hall is one of two buffet-style restaurants on campus. With the addition of wage increases, Esker has moved to other methods to cope with their smaller than preferred pool of employees.

   Sophomore Owen Poskin works at Prairie Street Market, located next to Esker Dining Hall. He has been working for UW-W Dining Services since September 2017. He has been jumping back and forth between jobs in Prairie Street Market and Esker Dining Hall.

   “Starting this year, I would just ask an Esker supervisor if they needed help, and most of the time they would say ‘yes,’ because if any of you have been to Esker this year, you probably have noticed they are short staffed,” Poskin said.

   On top of being a full-time student, Poskin racks up an average of about 40 working hours each week. He believes working on campus is a great opportunity, and he encourages others to get involved with jobs on campus, specifically through UW-W Dining Services.

   “When working on campus, your boss understands that school comes first, and then your job,” Poskin said. “I enjoy working on campus because I work right across the street from where I live.”

   Willis and Poskin hopes their efforts show that UW-W Dining Services is working to make improvement to deliver the highest quality service possible.

   Some students recognize their efforts and are supportive of their determination.

    Freshman Anna Kleven lives across the street from Esker Dining Hall. Her meal plan covers 14 meals each week, and she frequently eats on campus. She has noticed that Esker has been short-staffed, but she believes the employees are still providing great service.

   “At Esker, I usually see the same workers every day, but they are always working on a task or have their hands full,” Kleven said.

   When explaining the situation to her, she was optimistic about Esker’s struggle to find new employees.

   “Overall, they are doing the best they can with what they have. The small improvements will only help the bigger picture,” Kleven said.