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Dining Services investing in new dishwashers due to broken dishwashers over the years

Dining Services investing in new dishwashers due to broken dishwashers over the years

Dining Services investing in new dishwashers due to broken dishwashers over the years
November 15
11:37 2019

With the campus cafeterias’ dishwashers breaking throughout the years, dining services is investing in new dishwashers that will use less chemicals and have controls that are variable depending on the items being cleaned, Communications Manager for Dining Services Alyssa Torrence said.

When the dishwashers break, the cafeterias are unable to use non-disposable dishes and in turn have to use plastic foam and plastic dishes and utensils.

“I don’t live on campus anymore, but still occasionally go to the dining halls,” performance theater junior KT McGinn said. I’ve probably been seven times this semester, and two of those times the dishwashers were broken. Being that there’s five cafeterias and there’s just one that I visit, they seem to break fairly regularly. My freshman year, the dishwashers in Bruce were broken for weeks.”

The industrial dishwashers run continuously, sometimes up to 18 hours per day, so dining services has committed to replacing worn machines with new energy-efficient equipment over the past few years, Torrence said.

However, Torrence said, with some facilities built as long ago as the 1940s, there are limits on what can be done and how to respond when it comes to the electricity supply, steam supply, municipal water composition, elevator equipment and building structure, design and engineering.

“We only utilize disposable products in our dining halls when a facility, utility or equipment issue prevents us from running our dish machines,” Torrence said. “When we experience equipment, facility and utility issues and must rely on disposables, we feel that we are not meeting the expectations of our department and of our guests. We know that we can do better, and we work to continuously improve our operations and the guest experience.”

Dining Services is self-operated, so without state funding, when equipment breaks, it becomes a business expense that impacts the maintenance and operation budget, Torrence said.

“It’s very disruptive to the whole process of cycling dishes and causes frustration for the staff,” Bruce Dining Hall student employee George Vandra said. “As we have to change our routine to deal with it. It also leads to a huge increase of paper, plastic and Styrofoam waste. Our system is also very vulnerable to being downed.”

On Vandra’s first day of work, the carousel to hold dirty dishes was down, so Bruce Dining Hall had to station people in front of the carousel to collect dishes then move them through the kitchen door and hallway.

“It was a very large mess,” Vandra said. “I actually ended up breaking a lot of plates, not an uncommon thing to happen. I got pulled from the serving line to do this, so we were down a person there and there were a lot of dishes being moved which created a large mess. Not the end of the world, but it is a disruption.”

Vandra said things like this are not uncommon because if the carousel, the elevator behind the carousel or the dishwasher are out of commission, then the whole system cannot be used effectively.

“We also lack the room to put a dishwasher in the kitchen like they have in other dining halls,” Vandra said. “So, simply moving where we clean the dishes isn’t an option.”

Operating with a preventative maintenance plan to keep equipment working at optimal levels at all times, Torrence said this is what helps dining services get ahead of any issues that may arise or combat them in the most cost-effective way possible.

For example, Torrence said instead of renovating an older facility like Kerr Dining Hall, the new standalone dining hall is being built.

“We are very excited about this more cost-effective and sustainable solution for our campus,” Torrence said. “With the latest in kitchen technology and cleaning solutions, we can reduce our impact on the environment and save money.”

Currently, dining services is phasing out the usage of plastic foam by using the rest of their current stock in the cafeterias and replacing that with paper products and more sustainable options, Torrence said, making sure plastic foam products will no longer be ordered.

“If UNT really means the sentiment ‘We Mean Green,’ they’ll find a way to accommodate mass amounts of single-use products being wasted on campus every single day due to broken dishwashers,” McGinn said. “I find it frustrating. I know things happen and technology malfunctions, however UNT preaches ‘We Mean Green.’ Using mass amounts of Styrofoam cups and Styrofoam plates and plastic silverware is extremely wasteful.”

Featured Image: Dishes collect at the Bruce Hall cafeteria. Image by Veronica Rosas

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Rebekah Schulte

Rebekah Schulte

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