"Policy changes at Campus Dining locations have some employees concerned." Jake Douglas | Mustang News

This year, some of Cal Poly’s campus dining policies have changed under the new third party management, Chartwells Higher Education. In April 2017,

they began managing all campus dining locations for Cal Poly Corporation. Many of the policies implemented have become concerns for both students and employees on campus.

“It’s disappointing to me to know that this third party is the cause of most of the problems that we’re seeing with campus dining. I don’t trust the third party to care about the students,” software engineering junior Ty Foster said.

As a previous shift supervisor at Starbucks in Julian A. McPhee University Union, Foster had first hand experience with the interventions from the third party. He expressed many of his concerns that have proven to be problems on campus and led to him quitting his job.

“People complained about the food, so [Campus Dining] made us all dress the same. Clearly they’re not doing what needs to be done. They’re just fixing what they think is the problem,” Foster said.

Food on campus

According to Communications Specialist for Cal Poly Corporation Aaron Lambert, campus dining adjusts pricing every year based on changes in the costs of goods and inflation. This year, he said that inflation varies from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

Although inflation is more often than not the driving factor, Lambert said where Cal Poly gets its food plays a role in cost increases as well.

“Over the last number of years, we have increased the amount of food and ingredients that we get from local farms and vendors,” Lambert said. “Smaller vendors often try to stay competitive with their prices, and we know that buying local will increase our cost, but we do it for the quality, to lessen our environmental impact and to support local businesses.”

The quality of food may be getting better, but according to Foster, taste is another matter.

“I keep hearing that the food quality is getting better and I keep tasting worse food,” Foster said.

Foster expressed his concern with many of the dining locations on campus. For example, Bishop’s Burger now serves burgers on whole grain buns. Foster admitted he disliked them.

“Is it healthier than In-N-Out? Yes. Does it taste good? No,” Foster said.

In addition to food quality, Foster has expressed his concern about how expensive campus dining food can be.

“It’s ridiculous; I think they’re trying to make a super profit, and it’s not like you can spend Plus Dollars anywhere else, so you have to spend them here on your seven dollar fruit cup from The Ave,” he said.

Uniform changes

In addition to food changes, there is a new uniform policy for dining employees, according to Lambert. The new change requires students to follow a much stricter dress code, which people have complained about, Foster said.

Every campus dining employee is required to wear black work pants, black non-slip shoes, aprons, campus dining logo hats if applicable and the required shirt.

“The amount of stuff you would have to buy to work 20 hours on campus and have your work stuff be clean every single day, it was too much money,” Foster explained.

Meal passes

This year, all employees, full and part time, who work a five-hour shift are eligible for a complimentary meal on site, according to Lambert. Employees who work less than five hours in one shift are eligible for a 50 percent discount if they opt to purchase a meal.

This policy changed from last year, when employees received a $7.50 meal voucher for every four hours they worked.

“This policy aims to encourage employees to work five-hour shifts. The longer shifts are important to ensure staffing levels and are always a little more difficult to fill working around student schedules,”
Lambert explained.

Students have the option to work anywhere from two to eight-hour shifts, based on their availability.

However, some students who work for campus dining need the meal passes, according to Foster.

“You don’t take away employee benefits because then they leave, and that’s what happened. I left, I won’t be coming back,” Foster said.

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