AVI dining service faces pushback over dining changes

The+front+walkway+to+Davison+Hall.

Courtesy/Anna Raley

The front walkway to Davison Hall.

Tom Canuel and Anna Raley

Before the beginning of the school year, the school decided to partner with an outside vendor for food services. One month later, tensions have risen among students, staff, and AVI as they sort out unexpected problems associated with this new program.

At a town hall meeting given last week by Esther Reed, the dining management director for AVI on-campus, and college administrators, AVI is struggling to maintain employment and provide better quality food as food supply chains struggle around the country. 

Reed provided commentary on this issue, stating, “I have been with AVI for almost 14 years and I have never seen anything like this. We are up against food and supply shortages that are causing us to make daily menu modifications based on what comes in on our track.”

According to Reed, many orders that AVI has put in for food have not been shipped.With food shortages, orange juice has been completely unavailable. Additionally, AVI ordered 25 cases of chicken breast, and none showed up. 

In an email sent out the week before, Dr. Joseph Favazza, president of the college, wrote, “Many of our dining employees are working more than 80 hours and six days a week.” This comes as a result of a nationwide labor shortage, with companies struggling to hire as wages increase. According to the college, there are 42 positions open out of 105 total positions in full-time food servers working at Saint Anselm. Even with additional bonuses and high wages, AVI continues to struggle with employment.

Large amounts of plastic in Davison Hall come as a result of a lack of staff with no dishwashers available to do large amounts of dishes. Even with the labor shortage, conditions for workers in Davison Hall are not ideal. According to a source, AVI is currently working with Physical Plant to investigate a problem with flies in the Davison kitchen and servery. 

Reed confirmed this, stating, “We have addressed the issue with our pest control company, who has been servicing campus for more than a decade.”

Echoing what Reed stated during the town hall, a student dining services employee stated that the dining staff has been through a lot: “It is completely reasonable to be frustrated at the decreased quality of Davison Hall. However, please do not take it out on the employees. They are working very hard, and this is their job.”

Yet, even with all the struggle AVI faces, hope is on the horizon. During the town hall, AVI expressed their desire to have a fully functioning deli once again and a vegetarian specific station. AVI has still continued to serve the college community, especially since they came close to closing down C-Shop due to lack of employment. The workers in C-Shop fought to keep service going and still continue to serve the college community. The renovation plans for Davison Hall are needed, especially with furniture that was bought in 1981 and is falling apart.

Reed is asking students to let someone know at the time of receiving your food if something isn’t right. Even if it is after you have taken a few bites of your food, the food staff cannot do anything about your experience unless students inform them of what is happening.

AVI also is encouraging students to provide needed labor through individual student workers and service societies. 

Over the coming months, AVI hopes to improve service to the college community. According to Reed, “Students should expect to see the favorites from years past such as mac & cheese bar, nacho bar, mashed potato bar, and the introduction of action stations as staffing allows.” 

Students can also expect improved communication and fun traditions making a return, including the beloved gingerbread competition this year.

Reed asks students to be patient with the dining staff and hopes that students will be more understanding about the situations on-campus. “We know this program is not ideal. We are not happy to have limited offerings and we want to continue the wonderful service the College has been known for. We ask for an understanding that this may take longer than we would like.”

Any college students interested in working can contact AVI at [email protected]