Students and college employees are still adjusting to the new blue conveyor belt in the Knorr Dining Room. Hillsdale College replaced the old dishwasher and conveyor belt at the beginning of this semester. According to staff, the upgrade brings both new benefits and problems to the cafeteria.
“Though the system works steadily, we typically have issues on the student end due to dishes piling up,” Marketing Manager William Persson ‘17 said.
Persson, along with other staff members, confirmed that the diner traffic at the end of lunch has been tough to alleviate. Nearby lunch staff often have to step in to manage the piles of dishes left by students heading to 1 p.m. classes.
“The best thing a student can do is to not stack dishes too high,” Persson said. “Just wait for a second for a clear spot on the conveyor belt to set your dish down.”
One way Bon Appétit is diverting traffic is the new Café Fresco in Kendall Hall. The grab ‘n’ go food stop offers quick meal options in exchange for dining hall swipes. On its first day, March 26, 85 students purchased food from the Kendall cafe, with nearly 160 showing up the following day. According to General Manager Dave Apthorpe, the café should reduce the lines at both the cafeteria entrance and the dish station.
“We may have to shift more staff to the dish room at crunch time,” the manager said.
Despite traffic issues, particularly at lunch time, the new dish washing machine is a welcome improvement, according to Apthorpe. When the Grewcock Student Union opened in 2007, the cafeteria was run on a “tray system,” but Apthorpe said the transition to a trayless dining room paved the way for the new machine. With the old machine, he explained, “a lot of functions hadn’t been working for a while.”
“The maintenance crew was tired of trying to patch it together,” Apthorpe said.
Cashier Elizabeth “Ms. Liz” Maynard said that maintenance men have come in to work on the new machine multiple times, but it is a “better system.” The dish room staff had to adjust to the new equipment, lunch time rush, and unreturned dishes. The new conveyor belt does not revolve endlessly like the old one, forcing staff to do dishes quickly and immediately.
“The cup situation made it hard because they had less and had to keep running them through,” Maynard said regarding the shortage of plastic coffee cups in the cafeteria.
While the machine runs well, it no longer lets trays fit through the conveyor belt’s opening. According to Maynard, elderly guests use trays to eat and have to be directed away from the dish station to set them above the garbage cans instead.
The new dishwasher also has functions that Bon Appétit plans to activate in the future. It has the capability to be self-cleaning, according to Apthorpe.