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Campus Dining reduces dining hall hours, gives students additional flex dollars dates

Central Michigan University employees work in the Dine & Connect food hall Aug. 23 in East campus. The formerly known Fresh Food Company underwent renovations over the summer including the name change.

Central Michigan University Campus Dining and Chartwells announced a change in hours for two on-campus eateries and giving additional Flex Dollars to students with meal plans.

In a statement to on-campus students on Oct. 13, Campus Dining discussed the problems involving labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and dining hall closures and their current solutions.

"To best serve our students, we must make some adjustments to the hours of operation at our residential dining facilities," the statement said. "We understand this may inconvenience some students, but rest assured that we are continually reviewing our staffing levels so that we can return to normal levels of operation as soon as feasible.

The Eatery at Carey Hall will remain closed on weekends, from 3 p.m. Fridays to 7 a.m. Mondays, until further notice. The Social House at Merrill Hall will operate only 6-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

"We heard students were frustrated that they couldn't get anything past 10," said Cal Seelye, executive director of Auxiliary Services. "This helped to get some comfort foods if students would like,"

However, United Table at Robinson Hall and Dine + Connect at Woldt Hall remain unaffected schedule-wise.

"When I started this position in 2015, we had 6,000 students in the residence halls, this year we have 3,600 and  have not changed operations at all from having 6,000" Seelye said. "It is not a profitable thing to have four dining units open, the more money that is lost impacts our ability to provide opportunities for special things."

Campus dining, much like many campus facilities, is facing a labor shortage as there are fewer students on campus to fill these positions. However, Seelye said the problem is not student-specific since Campus Dining are 30-40 full-time employees below full staffing levels.

According to their statement, Chartwells has funded hiring, retention and referral bonuses for all of its associates. CMU Dining has also partnered with staffing agency Manpower in order to hire more associates while Chartwells continues its efforts.  

“Currently, we have 531 students working (dining services)," Seelye said. "We need about 150 more (to hit) our sweet spot,” 

Seelye said before the pandemic there were over 1,000 students that worked for all of areas in campus dining. 

CMU has upgraded benefits for students working in campus dining in ways such as increasing wages from minimum wage to $11-12 an hour and allowing for one free meal per shift worked, Seelye said.   

The lack of variety and employees, both full-time and student, has led to campus dining changing the hours of operation for all dining halls, according to their statement. Campus Dining has also said they're constantly reviewing staffing levels in order to return to normal operation as soon as possible. 

“Chartwells is going to work on special menu items,” Seelye said. “By moving employees, we can take the load off of these workers so we can have more stations and provide variety,” 

When asked about possible food shortages on campus, Seelye said that they have not experienced any food shortages in the residentials since Chartwells began its food ordering process early in the summer.

Addressing the topic of food quality, Campus Dining assured they are making several changes to their practices such as conducting student feedback forums, adding special menu items, and safer cooking practices.  

According to the statement, as "a show of appreciation to students for their patience," CMU Dining has given meal plan holders $100+ in Flex Dollars with the amount varying due to their meal plan capacity.

“Flex dollars are intended to be a portion of a meal plan if you aren’t able to eat,” Seelye said.

Students with the following meal plans will receive:

  • “All-access 450” — $175 additional FLEX dollars
  • “Central 19” — $150 additional FLEX dollars
  • “Central 16” — $125 additional FLEX dollars
  • “Central 12” — $100 additional FLEX dollars

Campus Dining encourages anyone with suggestions or concerns to text 989-373-2300. The CMU Dine on Campus app can also be checked for updates.