The Supply Shortages Impact on PLNU’s Cafeteria

The Caf’s Supply Room. Photo courtesy of Jenna Bernath.

The supply shortages that the United States has been experiencing, such as poultry and other meat products, have created daily struggles for Point Loma Nazarene University’s cafeteria. When executive chef David McHugh comes into work, he is not sure which food items they ordered were delivered and which were not.

“I have to be on my game. Ten items in an order we place are likely not to show up,” McHugh said.

The most under delivered items are chocolate chips, chicken breasts, certain types and cuts of fish, certain types of cereals, condiments, chocolate milk and the syrup for the peach juice. 

McHugh explained that there is no rhyme or reason to what does and does not get delivered. Due to this unpredictability, the caf staff members have to make adjustments every day. The first way they try to remedy the issue is through substitution: switching one menu item for another similar item. However, sometimes this tactic simply causes other problems, like shortages of other items and menu inaccuracy.

“When we did not have Rice Krispies to make Rice Krispies Treats, we used Lucky Charms. Then, we ran out of Lucky Charms,” said McHugh.

Additionally, when a substitution is made, the menu has to remain accurate. Many substitutions get updated on the menu, but second-year education major Megan Ravasdy noted that sometimes what the menu displays is not what is being served.

“Sometimes the menu will say bow tie pasta, but a different type of pasta will be served,” said Ravasdy.

Substitution is not always an option, so other countermeasures must be taken, especially in the cases of specialty items like gluten-free and vegan foods. Logistics supervisor Lawrence Sullivan said that sometimes items are purchased for a higher price from outside the typical distributors they use to ensure the caf has the necessary products.

Occasionally, McHugh or other caf employees, will personally stop by Smart & Final on their way into work to purchase items that are missing or in short supply.

“We always try to make sure we have what we need one way or another,” said Sullivan.

It is not only food items that have been difficult to acquire. The boxes that hold the milk in the milk dispenser have also been in short supply. The caf may have the milk, but they have no way to make it available for students. 

McHugh explained that his main goal is to make everything seem seamless, so students do not notice any issues. His motto is “do not run out, or at least do not let people know you ran out.”

Despite the staff’s efforts, some students have noticed that certain menu items have been missing or substituted. Second-year marketing major and frequent caf visitor Aubrie Nex has noticed that peach juice, whole milk, and chocolate chips have been less available or missing entirely.

“I come to breakfast every day and I think they’ve only had chocolate chip pancakes twice, and the pancakes only have like two chocolate chips,” Nex said.

However, many students understand that the supply issues are not the caf staff members’ faults. The issues extend beyond the caf and Sodexo.

“I appreciate the caf doing the best they can with the situation we are in as a country and going beyond what they need to do. Whenever I leave the caf, I am always full, so they are doing a great job of feeding us,” said Ravasdy.

Written By: Jenna Bernath