Workforce

The state of C&U foodservice: Where are the workers?

Nearly all respondents (96%) to an FSD survey say a lack of staff is the the top challenge they’re facing this school year.
Photograph: Shutterstock

The worker shortage shows no signs of stopping on college campuses.

Nearly all respondents (96%) to FSD’s college dining survey say the top challenge they’re facing this school year is lack of staff.

At Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., insufficient staff numbers have led the dining team to close certain parts of their operation, alter menus and purchase pre-processed fresh vegetables such as peeled carrots and pre-cut cauliflower. The team has also partnered with culinary arts programs at local community colleges to broaden their search for potential hires.

Other college operators are also turning to their local communities for staffing help. In addition to working with local culinary and hospitality programs, the team at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, N.Y., is trying to attract workers through demonstrations at local farm markets and by approaching other professionals in the area.

“Our team is very proactive in approaching restaurant and hospitality professionals that we cross paths with outside of our operations to speak with them about the opportunities at our university,” says Executive Director of Dining Don LaFlam.

Students are also recruitment targets. At Texas State University in San Marcos, the dining team has launched an “all-out campaign to recruit students,” says Resident District Manager Chin Hong Chua. Along with reaching out to athletic and academic advisors, they’ve tried to attract students by offering signing bonuses and setting up tables in the student center and other eateries on campus.

In order to retain employees, many survey respondents say they’re raising staff wages, among other initiatives.

“We have increased wages for student employees and overhauled our classified staff wages to promote retention and continue to make us an attractive place to work,” says University of Montana Executive Chef Brian Heddlesten.

At RIT, employees received a pay bump and are also being treated to employee appreciation events to help keep them happy on the job. Employees working late-night shifts at Texas State University can have their ride-share commutes paid for by the dining program.

Back to the full 2022 State of C&U Foodservice report.

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