When PLNU’s returning students finally arrived back on campus on August 31 for dinner that night, there was a sort of emptiness: Fewer employees, fewer food options and no panini press.
Some students began to speculate about the apparent downsize. Student employee Laurie Nguyen has worked at the Caf for two semesters. According to Nguyen, there have been some changes.
“Less students have been hired this semester compared to last semester and hours have been cut too,” she said.
According to Clint Guerra, resident dining supervisor, the Caf is in a transitional period resulting in a reduction of staff and services the Caf supplies. One of those changes is the removal of the gluten-free section.
Miles Rottman is a PLNU alumnus of the class of 1986 and the Caf’s new area general manager. He has 30 years of experience working for Sodexo, seven of which were in the Caf. He said that despite these changes, the Caf will still accommodate gluten-free students.
“Some of the procedures for the gluten-free section were being abused,” said Miles Rottman, the Caf’s new general manager. “However, new methods are being implemented to meet students’ dietary needs.”
This includes qualified students receiving a specific red band that grants them access to specific pre-made hot plates that accommodate their dietary needs.
Further changes include reducing staff. The previous head chef, Chef Urs, took a job with the company he was with prior to working at PLNU, two other line cooks are on temporary leave. Sodexo hired a new general manager this summer after Mary Sossaman left in March.
However, according to Rottman, Rafael Machado accepted the position of new head chef and will start September 22.
“Having fewer employees has put more strain on the rest to pick up the slack,” said Guerra. “We’re doing the best we can to accommodate everyone and make sure everything is up to standards.”
On July 1, 2014, the minimum wage in the state of California was raised to $9 an hour; however Rottman said the minimum wage increase has not impacted the Caf yet.
“For now, [the minimum wage increase] hasn’t affected us much,” Rottman said. “In the future, if or when they keep raising it, we’ll eventually have to increase student payments…to maintain our operation.”
Until then, students can rest assured: Rottman’s already ordered a new panini press.