Even before the new dining hall opens next fall, Belmont’s cafeteria staff has already made a “bowl’d” change.
A shortage in the large white bowls exclusively utilized in the cafeteria required students to use significantly smaller plastic bowls, a trend the staff started around the middle of the fall semester and one that has carried over into this year.
“We started using them because we’re running out of the larger bowls,” said Kyle Grover, director of dining services. “We started this semester, in August, with about 650 bowls. And today we have about 284.”
Grover attributed the shortage to a seemingly innocuous act: people walking out with them.
“That’s the No. 1 cause of why we’re short,” he said. “We became so short of bowls, I had to pull them out.”
In reference to the cheaper plastic bowls, Grover dubbed them “summer ware,” which Sodexo typically reserves just for summer camps. But the low number of durable bowls necessitated their use during the academic year.
Complicating matters further was a depleted stock of one component required to make the white bowls, melamine. The company from which Sodexo purchases the bowls hadn’t planned to produce any more until this month, he said.
“I’ve ordered bowls. But I’m waiting for the company to make them. Believe it or not, I tried to get different colors, I tried everything possible to find something suitable that was as durable. I couldn’t do it,” he said.
Whenever the shipment is made, Grover said he expects around 500 more to come in.
The melamines are not the only things in the cafeteria to get bowled over, either. According to an email sent by Grover to the Vision, in addition to the 366 bowls taken by students, in excess of 425 coffee mugs were removed last semester as well. This is a problem Grover said happens every semester.
The bowls cost approximately $7.05 to replace, while the coffee mugs run a bill of around $1.25 per mug, according to the email. Added together, it would cost Sodexo $2,580.30 to replace all the bowls and $531.25 to fully replenish its stock of the mugs.
However, Grover emphasized the use of the summer ware was neither a cost issue nor a means of punishing the students.
“The small bowls are not a cost issue. It’s something I had to pull out because I could not purchase what I needed,” he said. “During the school year, we want our students to have whatever they want.”