Restrictions and Supply Issues Affect Student Employment | News

SIUE Dining Services has been hit by multiple supply chain issues for the duration of the pandemic, while increasing restrictions and numbers at Omicron leave student employees with the challenge of enforcing policies and lack of staff.

Menu items and dining options now reflect items the university can acquire as food supplies are heavily impacted by the pandemic. Food services manager Dennis Wobbe said securing certain items due to both shortages and rising prices has been taxing on meals.

“Our cost of food is skyrocketing… Chicken [is about] 30% more fats and oils [are] 30 to 40% more. We barely get stuff, so it was very difficult. A lot of times we place an order and 25% of the order doesn’t arrive because it’s out of stock,” Wobbe said.

Wobbe said shortages like this have happened throughout the pandemic with things like milk, eggs and Pepsi products as well.

Due to the shift to online learning, Wobbe said the number of employees has gone up and down. With the loss of revenue due to fewer customers on campus, at one point in 2020 Food Services was operating with just 15 employees.

With Omicron soaring this semester, Wobbe said last week was also difficult due to the loss of many customers; about 50% of the 2,500 daily customers last week were faculty and staff, compared to the usual amounts they have with normal numbers of guests which can total well over double the number they see.

Other food outlets such as MUC Starbucks have also faced minor setbacks due to the recent outbreak which put some employees out of work. Erdem Serdaroglu, an industrial engineering major from Istanbul, Turkey, is a coffee barista and said this semester so far has been off to a rough start compared to last semester with sick employees.

“Last semester we didn’t have a problem like that, but this semester at the start because everyone is testing positive,” Serdaroglu said. “We had a few people who didn’t show up…one of them is [COVID-19] positive and the other [came in contact] with the one who is [COVID-19] positive.”

Some of the other job opportunities for students include the reception of MUC, in which their job is to help people, as well as to enforce the masking and distancing policies as best they can.

Junior Criminal Justice Maj. Bryce Thompson of Springfield, Ill., is one of the front desk workers and said he changed jobs during the height of the pandemic. He said one of the challenges of his job was trying to enforce campus policies.

“I think it’s difficult for students who are off campus to deal with other students – their peers – and enforce campus rules. [COVID-19] policies,” Thompson said. “With my job I have to enforce masks in the MUC and I know a lot of people who eat here don’t like [wear masks], so I think that puts students in a difficult situation.

Thompson said one of the biggest problems he had with law enforcement was the negativity students showed him when he tried to enforce university policies.

Enforcement of mask policies has also changed with state mandates at places like the Student Fitness Center. Senior biology and psychology majors Hillary Mann of Forsythe, Ill., works in both the front desk and equipment distribution office at SFC, and said the past few semesters have been positive for her due to her flexible hours. job.

With policy enforcement, Mann said the policies outlined for SFC had to be less focused and enforced due to pandemic policy enforcement.

“Since we’ve been in a pandemic, we’ve tried a lot to enforce masks,” Mann said. “It’s been especially difficult since we’re at a facility where people want to train and they exercise and they think it’s harder for them to train with masks on.”

For more information on Dining Service’s pandemic response, you can visit their website. For SFC’s response to the pandemic, you can visit the campus recreation website.

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