Is UNF dining understaffed?

Amelia Simmons, Police Reporter

Students on campus over the past few weeks have most likely seen these signs offering bonuses to anyone who would like to apply for a part-time or full-time job with UNF dining, and dozens of the signs litter the campus’s green spaces.

Photo Courtesy of Amelia Simmons

That’s because, much like the rest of Jacksonville’s food services, the UNF dining team is understaffed, said Vince Smyth, the Associate Vice President of Administration and Finance. Inadvertently, the problem has led to long lines and fewer food options.

UNF student, Daysia Borden, who lives in the Flats on campus, has purchased dining dollars but, due to the long lines between classes she instead chooses to go off-campus to get food. 

“In between classes I prefer to drive off of campus to get food so I can be on time for class instead of wait in the lines for food,” Borden said.

Many students have noticed the long lines at pretty much every on-campus dining option since the full return back to campus. 

“I can see that the people are understaffed and overworked. This creates a negative customer experience. I have also seen that on some days like Sundays there is only one person working at Pita Pit or Starbucks,” said student Austin Graham, who has just started his third year at UNF.

Spinnaker reached out to UNF to ask what happened to the dining employees in March of 2020, back when the school went remote. 

“When the University went to remote operations and on-campus food venues were closed, a majority of Dining Services’ staff was furloughed.  As venues have reopened, many have come back to work with Dining Services and we are continuing to hire into open positions,” UNF said in a statement.

Another third year student, Max Sills, who has a meal plan, has also noticed the difference.

“It just isn’t the same as it was my freshman year,” he said.

Spinnaker also reached out to the UNF Director of Marketing and Guest Experience, Dennis Negrin, who said the bonus for the fall term is $150 for part-time employees and $300 for full-time. Negrin oversees every dining option on campus. 

Photo Courtesy of Amelia Simmons

On Sep. 16, there was a new sign that was seen offering open interviews that were being held in the Chick-fil-A Dining Room. The signs have been spotted around campus over the past month. 

Negrin said that along with the bonus, UNF dining employment has many benefits including flexible schedules, free shift meals, and many opportunities to advance up the ladder. 

Last month, the FL minimum wage increased to $10/hour, and everyone, including employees and student employees at UNF, will be feeling the effects. This increase could change the number of students applying for jobs on campus. 

However, Smyth says there won’t be any changes seen in dining because, “Dining Services already offers starting wages above the upcoming increased minimum wage.”

Negrin explained that the UNF situation mirrors what has been happening everywhere. 

“Yes, the foodservice and hospitality industry is still recovering from the pandemic….staffing issues are unfortunately the norm right now,” he said.

Any UNF student looking for a job opportunity that offers competitive pay above minimum wage can apply to work in the UNF dining department, Smyth touted the benefits of, “…Working on campus in a fun, safe atmosphere, easy commute, free parking your first term.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S Department of Labor, employment has risen in August 2021. 

“Unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 5.2 percent,” according to a report released early Sep. by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

This increase in Americans getting back to work could potentially have a positive effect on businesses even as small as the dining services on campus at UNF.


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