Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
After talking to Stu Hain, the vice president of Facilities and Services, he provided us with a very thorough picture of how Sharples is run. While he cannot reveal the Sharples budget, he said that a total of 1372 Swatties are on the meal plan (4.4% on the 20-meal plan, 69% on the 17-meal, 26.2% on the 14-meal, and 0.36% on the 5-meal plan for off-campus students)
When asked about leftover meals at the end of the week, Hain explained, “The Dining Services direct costs budget is based on the College’s experience of the average number of meals and meal equivalencies usually eaten. If all students ate every meal for which they were eligible, assuming all costs and budget allocations remained the same, the College would have to cover the additional cost of providing those meals, possibly by increasing the cost of the board plan by 10 to 12% to compensate.”
As for Kohlberg and Science Center coffee bars, the pricing of the products is intended to reflect the cost of operation, including the costs of the goods, labor, and maintenance. This would typically entail a 10% to 50% mark-up on the item, with low mark-up prices on prepared entrees, coffee, candy and some pastries.
For Tarble, the same pricing policy applies, but it’s unique in that meal equivalency plays a large factor in the pricing. For instance, Hain elaborates, “Last year, when higher food costs forced us to increase prices by almost 10% in the snack bar, at the same time we increased the dollar amount of the meal equivalencies by 15%.”
Gusti Ruhri, Cash Operations Manager of Tarble, clarified more on Tarble’s operations. She selects products based on customer requests, food trends, and cost effectiveness. Recently, Ruhri extended Tarble hours on Mondays through Wednesdays to midnight. “The decision was made based on student request for the later hours. I shifted my staff’s work hours, not really adding more hours to operations, so as not to affect our labor budget,” she said.
Tarble’s dining traffic usually has an average of 550 swipes for breakfast, 920 for lunch, and 3,300 for dinner, with Saturday being the most popular day in the week.
When asked what she would like to inform students, Ruhri replied with two key points: one, she informs us that Tarble has very limited storage space, so when products run out for the week, it is because she does not have storage space for extra items. Second, Ruhri said that she is very committed to environment, and that she wants to encourage students to bring their own cups and mugs because “Customers not only get a 10-cent discount, but also support the College’s effort to save our environment.”
If you are interested in knowing more about the College’s dining services, Hain encourages students to visit the kitchen and seek out a manager for any questions or comments.