More than 1300 plates, cups, and utensils have not been returned to Paresky Commons since September, according to an announcement made in The Weekender last Thursday. In the announcement, the Paresky team encouraged students to return the missing items.
“We would like to ask you all to assist us in re-stocking our dining plates, utensils, cups and any other items you may have removed from Paresky… As you could imagine, this is very impactful and creates unnecessary strain on the operation,” read the announcement.
According to Paul Robarge, Senior Director of Food Services, and Billy Flynn, Custodial Supervisor of Food Services, the recent shortages have forced Paresky employees to work harder than normal to keep plates clean and restocked, often affecting students as well.
“The pressure goes on the dish room team and that’s really the team that works the hardest in the entire building… When [students] go to get a salad for lunch or dinner… [there’s often] hot plates at the salad bar. Since we wash them so often, they’re warm for cold food,” said Robarge.
“One issue is if we’re missing a whole lot of plates, we have to go upstairs and get them and bring them back down because they have extras upstairs. We have to use our extra source of plates because we tend to run out constantly,” said Flynn.
Item shortages tend to recur twice per year, impacting the productivity and budget of Paresky, according to Robarge.
“This has been ongoing for numerous years. I’ve been here for 11 years myself, and pretty much every year we go through the same pain of feeling that we’re running out so we can’t keep up with business. It happens probably twice a year, in the fall and the spring,” said Robarge.
Student Body Co-President Sebastian Romero ’20 noted the frequency of item shortages at Paresky. According to Romero, this issue might warrant more attention than it has received in previous years.
Romero said, “Every single year, there’s typically an effort from [Paresky] to make sure that people restock their plates. I remember last year there was a placing of signs in the doorways, and there’s always been, in my time here, a history of [Paresky] sending out announcements making sure that students have placed their plates and returned them back to where they’re supposed to go… It’s not something that’s always been fully addressed, so I think that the fact that it’s been recurring might be a reason to look into the details of it.”
Megan Cui ’21 believes the shortage can be attributed in part to student convenience. Cui called for more personal accountability with regards to items from Paresky.
“A big reason people do this is obviously convenience. They take their food to other places and they just want to leave it there because they think it’s a hassle to take it back to [Paresky]… I do get annoyed at this situation because I think it’s a bit disgraceful, and people should be more responsible for the [Paresky] utilities,” said Cui.
Romero attributed the issue to a lack of awareness regarding the impact that shortages have Paresky’s daily operations.
“The thing that I think is the worst part about it is that the students don’t really realize the implications of the issue because we’re not the ones who really have to deal with the [Paresky] plates. The people who work in [Paresky] are going to have to work to clean plates a lot faster and they’re going to have to be dealing with the stress. We, as students, don’t really recognize it and that’s why we kind of overlook it,” said Romero.
In addition to the extra work required by employees, the lack of reusable items in Paresky hinders its ability to act sustainably, according to Robarge.
Robarge said, “We just encourage everybody to make their dining time intentional. Come into Paresky and sit down, enjoy a meal with your friends, and decompress for the little bit of time that you have, and don’t take items out of the building. That’s not what this is made to do. This building is made to be very sustainable, which is why we don’t have any paper products or any disposable products. It’s a sustainable building with reusable products, and it makes it really hard to do that when we don’t have the products to reuse.”