ARA cannot keep competant food service managers
ARA tried to convince us that the new and improved food service facility in the Stratton Student Center would be the answer to all our dreams. It is, in fact, all of my food service nightmares come alive. We now get the same bad food we've been getting all along, all over campus, but it's in a flashy new setting complete with trendy neon and fake sausages hanging on the walls. Really whets my appetite! The best part is that soon that may be the only place to get hot food.
After spring break, Walker dining hall will no longer be serving hot breakfast. The reason? It's not making a profit. The reason? Inefficiency of management and human resources, and a lot of disorganization. Walker plans to reduce high labor costs by laying off workers that currently work the breakfast shift. I doubt that it will help. None of the units on campus besides Pritchett (that I know of) has been able to pull a profit since ARA came to campus. These managers probably couldn't balance a budget if their lives depended on it.
In all fairness to ARA, MIT was having trouble managing MIT Food Service, too. That was why the management firm was brought in to begin with. But shouldn't a management firm be able to supply decent managers? Apparently not. At least five managers on campus have quit in the last three and a half months, leaving an alarming void to fill with people who may or may not be competent. From being on the inside, I'd say that most of them aren't. Anyone's cousin can become a manager, and do a better job. ARA's policy seems to be, "Learn as you work because we don't have time to train you."
I have known three of the managers that quit on a personal level, and two of them were simply fed up with being in such a horribly run operation. Their superiors were managers whose abilities were almost on par with those of one of my stuffed animals. The frustration can be maddening. It takes weeks, sometimes months, to get anything done through ARA management. At Pritchett, we used to tell the health inspectors about things they might have missed just to be sure that the managers would hear about them from someone who pulled a little weight.
There's a part of me that would like to rattle off a few inside food service horror stories just to alert students to the sad state of affairs that exists. But I don't want to turn any stomachs. What I do want is to get other students to speak up about what they think. (The managers know me, and probably hate me now that they've read this, and if they didn't listen before, they certainly won't now.) Students deserve to know what's going on, and they should have a voice in the changes that occur in food service. I encourage you to find out about what is actually happening in your dining halls, or you may soon find yourself eating that plastic salami on your sandwich, and drinking insect exoskeletons in your soda. Believe it or not.
Taki May '90->
Former catering captain->
and head captain at Pritchett->