By David Edward Clark and Nick Perry
Elimination of guest meals and DeCafé reductions are results of Oberlin’s 10% cut to operating costs across all divisions of the College and Conservatory. This translates to a $160,000 to $200,000 reduction in Campus Dining Service’s budget.
Students can use the new option of charging meals to term bills for bringing guests, along with the standard options of flex points, Obie dollars, and meal tickets from Wilder.
DeCafé has reduced its hours and will be closed during Winter Term. “For us, the only way we can reduce is to save labor and save food,” said Michele Gross, Director of Business Ops and Dining Services. Reducing DeCafé’s operations has saved the College $80,000, and removing guest meals has saved $25,000. Food expenses will be cut by $20,000, and another $10,000 has been compensated for in other areas.
After all the cuts, CDS has only reached $135,000, which is $25,000 short of their original goal. According to Gross, “Anything more seemed like it was really going to really affect the core of the [dining] program.”
CDS turned to their evening hours for cuts. “Oberlin, for its size, had an unusually high number of evening operations…we didn’t have enough students using our services to justify three independent services open,” said Gross. The three operations are DeCafé, Azariah’s, and Dascomb, all of which are situated in Wilder bowl.
CDS believed that reducing one of these dining services would be the least obtrusive option for student life. Azariah’s was not seriously considered during this process because it is funded in part by the library, so cuts would not have been worth the student inconvenience.
Dascomb was saved mainly because of its size. CDS feared that if 4th meal was cut, students would turn to DeCafé. Dascomb’s kitchen is six times the one in DeCafé and the hall seats four times the students. Dascomb is far more capable of handling DeCafé customers than DeCafé is of handling Dascomb customers.
Dascomb has the advantage of accepting board meals, along items a la cart with flex or Obie dollars. The number of food stations in Dascomb also offers students more options than in DeCafé.
The DeCafé changes have gone through three student advisory boards. During the process, the initial proposal of closing DeCafé after 8 p.m. was modified so that it now runs groceries until 11 p.m. CDS also followed suggestions to move weekend hours to 4 p.m. – 11 p.m., instead of the original plan of closing at 6 p.m. on weekends.
CDS plans to save food through stricter waste monitoring and reducing food costs. The combination of going trayless and the introduction of food waste bins last year has dropped the throw-out waste from 369 pounds per day at Stevenson in the fall of 2006 to 186 pounds per day by the 4th week of the food bin program.
The College is maintaining its goal of buying 45% of its food locally. CDS will strive to reduce food costs by finding good deals and spacing out expensive items. Expect less steak and more meatloaf.