By: Angelie Roche
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Bon Appetit — the company that supplies food and dining services for St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) — has been experiencing a staffing shortage. While last year’s restricted dining regulations allowed them to condense their operations, the company is now attempting to provide full service amid the “return to normal” with limited staff.
As campus opens up fully, the Great Room is returning to the self-serve, buffet-style experience from the pre-pandemic years. This includes the return of the Breakfast Nook waffle makers, panini presses, soft-serve ice cream and the omelet station, among many other services. Additionally, patrons may once again serve themselves and food is no longer pre-packaged.
However, one thing that has not returned to its pre-pandemic condition is the tableware; for a few days at the beginning of the semester there was metal silverware and plates that could be washed and reused, but after less than a week those were replaced by the disposable alternatives that had become ubiquitous in the last year. According to the Bon Appetit staff, this is due to staffing shortages, preventing them from being able to cover several positions.
These shortages have also become evident in the absence of “Late Night at the Pub,” a well-loved favorite of SMCM upperclassmen. The service, which continued through last year, offered hot food such as pizza, nachos and burgers during weekend nights, and provided a convenient dinner for students living in North Campus housing. Without the necessary workers, though, Bon Appetit has simply not been able to fill those jobs. These features are missed by many students. SMCM Junior Peter Wiley says that “pre-COVID food was definitely better” but that he “understands that Bon Appetit is trying their best at the moment.”
However, at the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Sept. 28, it was announced that the Pub would begin offering its Late Night option once again starting Friday, Oct. 1. This new development suggests that staffing problems are already beginning to be solved, and that perhaps soon we will see a return to previous dining operations.
When asked how she felt about the staffing shortage, Bon Appetit worker Rose simply said, “[the other staff and I] work hard and we do what we gotta do.”
On Sept. 15, the SMCM SGA sent out a message via their Instagram advertising that Bon Appetit was hiring student workers in order to help open up more dining services on campus. The advertisement says that the work is 2-10 hours a week, and the application deadline is Oct. 8, so students should apply as soon as possible. The steps are as follows: visit altogethergreat.com, click on the “Careers, Job Opportunities, Looking to Join Compass Groups, Hourly” tabs, put “20686” in the “Search Location” bar, and complete required application materials. “After applying,” the graphic says, “[students] will be contacted by the SMCM Bon Appetit General Manager.” The application is also available on HIRESMCM (https://smcm-csm.symplicity.com/), the college website for student jobs.