LMU Dining Services sent a message to the community regarding congestion in its on-campus dining facilities on Sept. 2, 2021. The message, which was sent through LMU This Week from LMU Marketing and Communications, stated that LMU Dining “recognizes that students have been experiencing long lines in our facilities this past week.”
According to the message, LMU Dining always expects crowding in the first weeks of the school year. However, the 2021 “fall opening has been particularly impacted by supply chain issues and labor shortages.”
LMU Dining posted a notice to their website on Aug. 19 acknowledging the impact that its staff shortage and supply chain issues may have on their services throughout the school year.
“This pandemic has impacted our producers, manufacturers, and distributors as well, which is causing LMU Dining to continuously pivot and adjust to the environment,” stated the notice.
LMU Dining is not the only operation to be affected by these issues. Around the country and globe, labor shortages coupled with supply chain disruptions have impacted product availability and changed how businesses are able to serve the public.
Upon entering multiple dining locations in LMU, community members have been greeted with signs that read "Due to food and labor shortages, our menu might be limited. We are sorry for the inconvenience. Please check with your cashier about what is available on our menu.”
Starbucks featured a sign last week writing, “Due to food shortages, Starbucks is not offering food at the moment … Please check with your barista about what is available on our beverage menu.”
Additionally, signs both inside and outside of the store read that the menu is limited to iced tea, iced coffee, black coffee and cold brew (excluding cold foams) after 8 p.m. daily.
In June 2021, Starbucks faced national ingredient shortages for many popular drinks, as well as food items and cups.
The Loyolan reached out to the manager of Starbucks about the shortages on campus but did not receive a response.
Starbucks is not the only on-campus dining location that has been unable to offer items from their menu.
According to freshman psychology major Jessica Luevano and freshman English major Lauren San Filippo, Iggy’s Cafe ran out of menu items like burger patties, buns and salads during the first week of school.
“While we are putting every effort into getting every ingredient or item on campus for you to enjoy, there may be times where they are not delivered or available,” explained LMU Dining’s supply chain and labor notice.
San Filippo has also experienced long lines most times she has eaten on campus. “I’ve been at the sandwich place [in the Lair] and I think one time my friend literally waited for like 40 minutes for a sandwich,” she said.
While San Filippo understands the congestion due to LMU’s large student body, Luevano did not anticipate the crowds she has encountered.
“I was trying to look for some food and then some people were telling me that the burger place in [the Lair] stopped the orders 'cause it was so crowded,” said Luevano.
When sophomore film and television production major Karan Tulsani visited Roski's Cafe and Iggy's Cafe, he felt that their options were sparse. However, he did understand that this lack of variety could be attributed to the ongoing food and labor shortage.
“When I went to the Lair, at least over there they kind of have different options to kind of choose from,” said Tulsani. “But what did discourage me a bit from there, was that it was a little too crowded. And by a little too crowded, I mean the opposite of social distancing.”
According to their supply chain and labor notice, LMU Dining is taking steps to address these issues in their facilities.
“Our chefs have been adjusting menus and operations to meet the needs of our students and community,” the notice stated. “We have experts working behind the scenes to identify shortages in the food production and distribution systems ahead of time to allow our local chefs to make menu adjustments so that you are well taken care of.”
In addition, the notice stated that LMU Dining is working towards addressing its staffing shortage by offering employees a “highly competitive compensation and benefits package,” as well as bonuses. LMU Dining has also “partnered with local culinary schools and job placement programs to get new members on [their] team, as well as [sent] mailings to all households in local zip codes to recruit new staff (reaching over 19,000 people!).”
LMU Dining is also hiring students at many of their locations, including Starbucks, Iggy’s Cafe, The Grid convenience stores and the Crimson Lion, according to their website.
The supply and labor shortages facing campus has delayed the release of Kiwibots on campus, as well as the opening of the Crimson Lion “in order to allocate as many resources as possible to [LMU's] areas of highest need,” according to the Sept. 2 message to the community.
The message also noted that LMU Dining is actively incorporating solutions for these issues and working to solve problems both immediately and for the long term.
Starting Sept. 7, food trucks will be on campus at Alumni Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on select days of the week. Currently, the food trucks are only accepting cash and credit cards, as noted on LMU Dining's website.
“Given the multitude of variables impacting the world’s recovery from COVID-19, it is difficult to predict when exactly food supply and labor shortages will end,” said Andrew O’Reilly, senior director of auxiliary and business services. “I suspect that we will experience gradual improvements on campus beginning this month.”