Thank the dining staff for their work during the pandemic Monday, Mar 8 2021 

By Catherine Brown–

University of Louisville’s dining staff deserve appreciation for the work that they do to feed students, faculty and staff every day. 

On Feb. 17, U of L Dining announced their decision to reduce dining hours across nearly every restaurant on campus. With that decision came the closures of Louie’s Corner, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Chick-fil-A at HSC Commons.

According to U of L Dining, this decision was made regarding lower rates of students on campus due to COVID-19.

Students were not happy with the decision.

Several students replied to the Instagram post with #FreeEinsteinBros and demanded that the university reinstate the chain’s previous operating hours.

Einstein Bros. is a favorite dining option for many students on campus. The chain operates at early hours, which allows students in early morning classes or athletics to grab breakfast before class or practice. Many students depend on Einstein Bros., the Ville Grill, and Chick-fil-A to start their day.

Destiny Smith, a sophomore nursing major, says that Einstein Bros. has been her go-to breakfast spot when she has 8 a.m. classes.

“The staff at Einstein Bros are so nice, genuine, and funny,” said Smith.

U of L partners with Aramark, a corporation that provides food service and facilities. Therefore, U of L food service workers are technically Aramark employees, not U of L employees. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve any less appreciation.

Several students commented on the impact that the change had on dining employees.  

“Not only is this screwing over students but think of the employees whose hours have been drastically cut,” freshman Vito Sabino said. “These are not high paying jobs either. Seems like U of L is willing to live with impacting the quality of life for food service workers just to save a buck.”

“Think of the workers who will be laid off or will have their hours cut. How will they provide for their families,” said sophomore Savannah Quach.

The following week, U of L Dining announced that food trucks would be available Tuesday to Thursday for students to enjoy.

“The decision was made this past week to bring these offerings to campus to aid in our ongoing efforts to improve the student, faculty and staff dining experience,” said U of L Director of Communications John Karman.

While the food trucks did receive decent crowds each day, students demanded that U of L bring back the regular dining hours.

Although students had more diverse dining options to choose from during that week, several original dining options were closed or their hours still reduced. 

Yet, how many dining staff struggled with having their hours reduced or had to worry about being scheduled that week?

U of L Dining has since announced that Einstein Bros. Bagels will open again for Grubhub orders. U of L will cover all transaction fees.

Think about how annoying it is to pay thousands of dollars on a meal plan. Then consider how little of that you can even spend. Finally, think about how little of that money the dining staff will actually see. 

Next time you go out to eat on campus, show your appreciation for the dining staff. If you can, stop and talk to them or give them a compliment. You might make someone’s day.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Food Service Fallout: Coronavirus Closures Hit Ohio Valley Workers Tuesday, Mar 17 2020 

Rachel CotterillRay’s Harvest House in Albany, Ohio, had to lay off 11 people following Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s order that all bars and restaurants close dine-in services. Denise Hager was a cook at the restaurant and said she’ll miss seeing and talking to all of her regular customers. 

“I don’t like it, but then again I don’t have any control,” Hager said.  

Hager said she isn’t sure what she’ll do about the financial hit she’ll take from not working. 

Restaurant owners and food service workers in the Ohio Valley are worried about their livelihoods now that Governors in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana have ordered all bars and restaurants closed to dine-in customers. Restaurants will still be allowed to take carry out and delivery orders. The move is the latest attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus and raises further concerns about the economic impact of the pandemic.

Tim Sharp | WOUB

Ray’s Harvest House in Albany, Ohio shut down its dine-in operations after Gov. DeWine’s order Sunday.

Stacy Roof is the president of the Kentucky Restaurant Association. She said she understands why Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear made his decision, but she’s concerned about businesses across the state. 

“I’m disappointed for our businesses because I know they’re fearful and they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to take care of their employees,” she said.   

Roof said it’s difficult for people in the hospitality business to stay home because the nature of the job is serving others. She said another concern is all the food that could go to waste because local restaurants won’t be doing as much business as they normally would. 

Economists across the region are recommending expanded paid sick leave to keep people home from work when they’re feeling ill, as well as easier access to unemployment benefits. Governors in Kentucky and Ohio have used executive orders to waive the waiting period for unemployment benefits, but that does not address all the concerns.  

Michael Shields is with Policy Matters Ohio, an economic policy group. He said the unemployment benefits Ohio offers need to be expanded so that more workers qualify. 

“In Ohio, the earnings test requires that you earn $269 a week. A minimum-wage worker in the state who works 30 hours a week doesn’t qualify,” he said.  

Shields said only about one in five workers in Ohio who are jobless are receiving unemployment compensation. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, about 746,250 people worked in food prep or service-related jobs across Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. 

Tim Sharp from partner station WOUB contributed to this story.