Universities struggle to find workers in dining halls

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 4:56 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan State University students are frustrated by a lack of dining options while the school struggles to find people to work in dining halls.

MSU is hoping to have a dining staff of about 2,000. Right now, they have about half of that, according to Kat Cooper with MSU Residential and Hospitality Services.

She says it’s partly because students have the option to work at so many places right now.

“We’ve also seen a trend of students who are first-time on-campus students not wanting to work until maybe their second semester or their second year because they want to understand maybe the workload of college, the lay of the land, and so now we have two first-year classes on campus,” said Cooper.

MSU temporarily closed dining halls in the Landon and Shaw buildings for dinner and on weekends last month. More than 800 students have signed a petition asking the university to keep Landon Hall open for dinner.

Short staffing is a trend that’s happening around the state and the nation. Central Michigan University says they’re down about 40 people. Grand Valley State University has more than 500 openings.

Now MSU is asking staff to volunteer in dining halls. They have also asked more than 100 Residential and Hospitality Services employees to work eight hours in the dining halls each week.

“I’ve done everything from cutting desserts to assembling tacos to carving meat and serving it up. So it’s been a change of pace, and it’s been very rewarding,” said Cooper.

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