Dining Halls See Partial Return to Permanent Ware

Sarah Sweeney, Co-News Editor

St. Mary’s Dining Hall, which primarily serves juniors living in the West Campus apartments, has partially returned to the use of permanent ware, or non-disposable tableware, for its breakfast and lunch hours Monday through Thursday. 


Dining Services originally shifted to the use of disposable tableware in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for health and safety purposes. Dining Services continued the use of disposable tableware more than two years later, for a number of factors, the most prominent being the challenges posed by an extremely light labor market. 


“The main reason that we are not utilizing permanent ware in the dining halls is the labor challenge that we and the rest of the hospitality industry are experiencing,” Michael McGuckin, the Director of Dining Services, explained. “We have many openings in our operations for our ‘utility’ positions that we have been unable to fill.”


“Utility” positions are those that entail dishwashing and pot washing tasks, as well as general kitchen and dining room cleaning. 


However, St. Mary’s partial shift to the use of permanent ware for its breakfast and lunch hours serves as a small sliver of progress.


“One positive that we are able to share is that this week we are able to begin offering permanent ware in St Mary’s for breakfast and lunch,” McGuckin said. “We were successful in filling a few of our open utility positions.” 


However, Dining Services is not simply content to stop here, with McGuckin explaining that Dining Services “would like nothing more than to be able to have permanent ware in our dining halls” and “are working with Human Resources in exploring some alternative ideas in how we may better can attract applicants for these important positions.”