Supply chain woes come to the Hilltop


Credit/Anna Raley

Davison has experienced the same supply issues as other dining halls and restaurants around the country.

Thomas DeRoche and Jason Burns

After the COVID-19 pandemic upended the global shipping industry, prices for food, lumber, computer parts, and many other products skyrocketed. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the food price index has increased by 10.7 percent from May 2019 to May 2021. This is bundled with increases of eight to ten percent on pork, beef, and chicken in the same time frame. These price increases have been the cause of many restaurant closures, and, in tandem with labor shortages, have put a strain on school dining halls to deliver proper meals despite the difficulties.

The effects of the shipping and labor crisis have been seen clearest in Davison Hall. Esther Reed, Director of Food Services, said that AVI was “still down over 30 positions.” Because of this, students have experienced changes to the food options in Davison Hall and the Coffee Shop. One such change was the closing of the Coffee Shop on Sundays. This temporary change started on September 26 and will remain until C-Shop has adequate staff. 

Another big change for returning students was the closing of the deli station. The deli station provided students with a relatively quick and transportable lunch if they wanted to eat in the dining hall or take it to go. Another new change on campus was the removal of the common hour, the hour between 12:30 and 1:30 where students could get lunch or attend events. Now, with fewer options, less “to go” food, and less time to eat, students may not be able to get an adequate lunch in time for their classes or other events. William Furlong, Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer, said in an email, “as we add staff, we will resume all of your favorite dining options and more,” however, there is no telling when the staffing crisis will be resolved and the deli and Coffee Shop will be reopened. Despite this, Reed said, “Dining Services plans to continue to add new items and improve the program regardless of shortages and staffing challenges.” 

While some of the classic action station items like sweet crepes are no longer being offered, AVI has been doing “‘Pop-up Events,” including pretzel bars, nacho bars, and wing bars when staffing and supply allow it. Some options are not available because the food was never delivered. Furlong, said in an email, “We are getting only a portion of the orders we place… In some instances, our orders do not arrive at all.” This shipping issue has necessitated creativity from AVI. According to Reed, dining services has been “adapting and planning weeks ahead to ensure certain items are in. We have gotten to a point where we know which items will likely not come in and can plan menus accordingly.” 

Hopefully, as the pandemic dies down and more people enter the workforce, the food industry will return to normal. Regardless, Reed said, “We will be adding new menu items to our cycle and utilizing the winter break to train our staff and come up with new ideas.” AVI still plans on renovating the dining hall over the summer, so underclassmen will yet again have a different dining experience.