Despite wide-ranging efforts to slow College spending, the Dining Services budget is not in immediate danger of being cut, according to Bob Volpi, director of Dining Services.
The initial $10 million budget for this fiscal year has not been altered. Out of this budget, Volpi estimates that roughly $75,000 is spent per week on food.
While more money has been expended on produce, groceries and baked goods due to inflation, the amount spent on meats, dairy and beverages has stayed relatively constant. “Maintaining the budget has become more of a challenge, but we are not going to decrease quality,” Volpi said.
Dining Services is employing various measures to maintain the current budget, including searching for the best ways to purchase goods at the lowest prices and maintain good control of inventories. “We’re looking for the best products to buy at the most competitive prices,” Volpi said.
Dining Services has also been taking measures to prevent excess production, including double-checking recipes, not making too much food per meal and discouraging food waste.
These measures, which include balancing the menus between meat and vegetarian options, require that Dining Services work as a team, with every level of staff communicating effectively. “We’re paying attention and listening to everyone,” Volpi said. “If there’s too much food left over at a meal, we want the chefs to know.”
In addition, they are looking for less expensive options for non-food items such as paper and plastic goods.
Even in the precarious economic climate, Dining Services is continuing its commitment to sustainability, despite the estimated $75,000 in annual savings if certain goods were purchased from mass-manufacturers.
“We’re still buying fair trade coffee, hormone free milk, vegetables from Peace Valley Farms, maple syrup from Ioka Farms and granola from Nature’s Best,” Volpi said.
Rising food costs are making it more difficult to maintain food quality and diversity of options offered. “We want to continue to offer the same quality, but this is increasingly difficult,” said Gayle Donohue, manager of Driscoll Dining Hall. “We are trying to still offer a variety of foods while being observant of the food costs.”
Lox at Driscoll’s brunch bagel bar and Lobsters at Harvest Dinner, for example, were eliminated. “Last year, there was a sense of abundance. This year we are being more careful. It’s a different year with a different feel,” Donohue said.