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'It's not ideal': GVSU on-campus dining struggling to feed students due to labor shortage despite budget increase

There are five on-campus dining facilities that are currently closed due to staffing issues.

ALLENDALE, Mich. — Grand Valley State University students are paying more for campus dining this fall, yet the college's dining services are struggling to feed them.

It's the result of a labor shortage forcing the school's dining services to operate at reduced capacity.

"A lack of people and a huge line, plus limited food is not ideal," said GVSU student Chelsea McCrum. 

Wednesday morning, the school sent out a statement to students and staff that said they are struggling to staff campus dining positions.

You can read that full letter below.

According the school, there are currently 5 on-campus dining facilities that are closed, three due to supply chain issues. 

For the places that are still open, they've had to limit menu options. 

The school promises they are working hard to get back to full staff and are even offering incentives for employees including a free meal every four hours worked and instituting essential worker pay. 

"I think that's great," said Chelsea McCrum, "money speaks volumes and if you want people to stay for a shift, you give them an incentive."

The school is asking for patience, and so is the dining staff.

They posted a video to social media at the end of August that said "we just wanted to say thank you to all of our students for being patient with us as we try to get every location open this fall."

But even with the plea to hire more workers, some are frustrated that dining options have been limited with the recent increase of the cost of Housing and Dining. 

The Board of Trustees approved the budget back in June. 

Chelsea McCrum said the school needs to figure out how to make this situation better for students, especially if they're paying more and now getting less. 

"Have students make suggestions and actually listen to them," she said, "students need to raise their voices." 

You can learn more about campus dining changes and follow any updates here.

The letter sent to the GVSU community Wednesday morning reads as follows:

Campus Community,

Campus Dining is currently facing employment challenges, both in full-time staff and student employment shifts across the entire enterprise.  Campus Dining realizes the situation is not ideal, but is doing everything possible given the labor shortage and asks for your understanding as we work to address the issue.  

The labor shortage is impacting all sectors of the economy not only in Michigan but across the United States.  Currently there are 30 openings in our full-time staff and 502 vacancies in student employment positions.  To put it in perspective, we only have about 70% of our full-time staff and 30% of our student staff in place.  

We're taking proactive measures to obtain additional full-time staff and student workers.  Campus Dining will be instituting essential worker pay for designated shifts (every day of the week at targeted times of the day) and providing a free meal for every 4 hours worked (to be used at your convenience) as another incentive.  Further, Aramark is expanding opportunities to recruit additional full-time staff.  The essential worker pay is a $2/hour premium.

This staff shortage has a direct impact on campus dining operations as it limits our ability to keep all dining venues open at typical operating levels.  We're also having to limit the full range of menu options to the most popular items at some locations to minimize wait times at peak hours because of the labor shortage.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to rectify these issues.  Please stay updated on dining venue hours at Campus Dining - Grand Valley State University (gvsu.edu).  If you are interested in earning some extra cash and free meals – please apply in person in the lower level of Commons at the Campus Dining Office!  

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