The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

Dining services reports almost $1 million deficit since resuming full-time operations

Nello Puelles
The Hinson Campus Center dining area at De Anza College, taken on Oct. 6.

De Anza College’s dining services reported a net loss of $928,261.14 over the previous academic year because of low sales at the Hinson Campus Center food court, which recently returned to being open full-time after the pandemic.

Since the 2019-2020 academic year, De Anza dining services experienced a significant decline in revenue because of reduced operations during the pandemic. Until the 2021-2022 academic year, federal funding reimbursed Dining Services for their lost revenue through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

Pam Grey, vice president of Administrative Services, said that the current dining system is designed to be funded by its own revenue, which means its operation relies on making enough food sales to pay for expenses including workers’ wages and ingredients.

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“The only solution that’s going to help is having students here on campus,” Grey said. “We are not back in the numbers that we were (because) we still have a lot of online classes and a lot of hybrid classes.”

Grey and Campus Center director Patrick Gannon said that reduced campus attendance from online learning caused a significant difference in daily food sales on average, compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

“Before the pandemic, dining services served between 1,500 to 1,800 people every day,” Gannon said. “Last year, there were only about 400 to 500 transactions a day.”

Even with approximately 25% more in-person attendance this quarter, Gannon said that this will not be enough to even out the deficit for this year.

“Enrollment did increase, but it’s still not going to be enough,” Gannon said. “We would need to have another 40%. It’s very hard.”

Because of the food court’s business model, dining services has to make a high volume of sales in order to pay off its expenses and operate sustainably.

“What we would be looking for is our gross profit (to be) able to cover the salaries and operating expenses,” Grey said.

Grey said the dining services staff’s wages and salaries were the largest expense on the budget and that staff are essential to the operation of the food court. She also said that wages and salaries are only projected to increase as a result of inflation and high costs of living.

Grey said at the Oct. 12 Budget Advisory Committee meeting that enacting layoffs and pay cuts on the current dining staff would be unethical, so the proposed solutions would focus on generating more revenue.

“These are some of the lowest paid FHDA workers,” Grey said. “Reducing staff compensation is not an option.”

Grey said that she and Gannon are creating an RFP, or Request for Proposal, to possibly outsource on-campus food services to independent contractors.

This process will involve auditing and evaluating potential contractors, which is projected to take eight months to a year, and the contractors would not be Foothill-De Anza Faculty Association members or receive the same union benefits.

Meanwhile, dining services is also working with other entities, including the Budget Advisory Committee and Resource Allocation and Program Planning to make the existing model more profitable while still keeping it accessible for students.

Grey said the dining service will not be closed and that she and Gannon are “doing the request for a proposal to have a third party come in to be able to run dining services.”

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About the Contributors
Nello Puelles
Nello Puelles, Multimedia Editor
Nello would love to direct a news show or podcast and help his community.
Yumeno Matsuo
Yumeno Matsuo, Managing Editor
Yumeno is majoring in journalism at De Anza. She hopes to connect with people around the college through La Voz.
Katrina Bui
Katrina Bui, Social Media Editor
Katrina is an engineering student and "nosy person" who is always on the hunt for information. Her journalistic goal is to be able to cover a broad range of topics in a detailed and comprehensive manner.

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