The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Dining Services tightens in face of budget stringency

With the College facing budget stringency in the midst of a spiraling endowment, the administration has asked every department to reduce their operating costs. Director of Dining Services Dick Williams said Dining will cut approximately $240,000 from its $2.5 million budget, a decrease of nearly 10 percent.

In order to reduce costs, Dining will reduce hours for the Spencer Grill and reduce daily options in the dining hall. Despite the cuts, student workers will not be affected, according to Dining’s directors.

Dining has implemented new, more limited hours for the Grill in order to reduce costs. “Prices…were high enough at this moment,” Assistant Director of Dining Services Mary Kirk said. “I didn’t want to [raise prices], so the only other place was to cut hours. “

Last semester, the Grill opened at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and closed at 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Now the Grill will not open until 1 p.m. on Saturdays and will close at midnight every night. In addition, the Grill will not open during spring break, as it has in previous years.

Williams said that Dining has “a hard time finding students to work those late hours, coupled with the increasing theft problem during those hours,” which made them more attractive cuts. According to Kirk, during one weekend last year over $200 worth of merchandise was stolen.

Students said they were disappointed that the Grill was reducing their open hours. “I think that there are so few hours in which people can use their dining dollars already that I think cutting back is just absurd,” said Zac Ellington ’10. “It’s already so limited, the times you can go to the Grill or the dining hall, that cutting back those options is just unfortunate.”

Despite reduced hours, students employed through Dining should not be affected, as most of the shifts cut were unfilled. “I do not believe that anybody would be short hours,” Kirk said. “I have even hired three new students that previously were not working for me.”

Jaysen Wright ’09 said that cutting the late night Saturday hours was a logical move. “It was always really, really difficult to staff those shifts because no one wants to work them,” Wright said. “They would always made us work those shifts in rotation … no one wants to work on a Saturday till 3 a.m.”

There will be changes made in the dining hall as well. Even though the dining hall will maintain its current schedule, it will run at a reduced capacity. Currently, Dining plans to close one station each day, rotating between the pizza, plat du jour, stir fry, deli and grill stations. Williams said the vegan bar will remain open daily.

There are not currently any plans to further adjust hours, and Williams said that despite budgetary constraints, Dining is still hiring. “We just do not have enough student help to keep the whole place running,” Williams said.

Though these changes will undoubtedly affect students who rely on the Grill for getting food after hours, many students said that, given the current state of the economy, this is a sacrifice that will have to be made. “You’ve got to be real here, there’s less money to go around,” said Dan Neely ’09. “I think you can deal with not having pizza for one night.”

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