Why is it that when you get to the end of the food line in the Dining Commons and reach for silverware, there are no spoons or forks? Why are there only a few cups left when you go to grab something to drink? While the reason may simply be that you’ve gone to the Caf during the lunch or dinner rush, part of the problem may be that students take dishes and silverware from the Dining Commons when they shouldn’t.
“Plates do break, cups do get cracked, but those aren’t the major reasons that the cafeteria seems to purchase plates, bowls, cups, and silverware on a yearly basis,” said sophomore Zack Bohinski, a student worker in the cafeteria.
ENC’s food services provide an average of 950 meals to students daily between the Commons, Dugout, and Hebrews. This food cannot be served adequately with missing dishes and silverware, but that doesn’t stop some students from taking items back to their rooms or to class.
“Taking dishes from the Dining Commons only drives up cost. There is never any certainty that dishes, cups, etc. will be returned,” said Food Service Director Rick Harmon.
Harmon accounts for missing items in the budget, knowing that people are going to steal and misplace dishes, but students can do their part by leaving the cafeteria’s items in the cafeteria.
Many students acknowledged that they see items being taken from the Dining Commons.
“I have seen people take cups in the past,” said junior Jerome Graham.
Sophomore Angela Valerio also sees people taking items out of the cafeteria.
“I see people taking stuff out of the [Dining Commons] from time to time, like silverware and cups. It just means that the [Dining Commons] is going to run out of dishes quicker at meals, and—if people do it a lot—it might be reflected in our tuition,” said Valerio.
Some students mentioned that dish theft might occur because students have small windows in between classes where they have to get in and get out of the cafeteria quickly.
Harmon mentioned that the “little plastic cups and spoons [were purchased] so you can carry them out.”
Recently, Harmon had to purchase bowls because he was worried the Dining Commons may not have enough for the added traffic during Festival of Life.
If students continue to take items from the cafeteria, new items will have to be purchased, which cuts into the budget that could be used for other improvements.
Students can return any dishes they or others have taken from the cafeteria during meal times without punishment.
“I will always take back dishes with open arms. I know it happens, but … if the dishes come back instead of getting thrown out … that is a plus. No one will be in trouble,” concluded Harmon.