By Daniel Villafana
Perspective: Why did HUDS remove hot breakfast?
Anonymous HUDS Employee: For financial savings through labor cuts. Harvard spends a lot of money on benefits for its employees. That is where the real saving are. Removing hot breakfast was going to allow HUDS to get rid of 24 employees, 12 cooks and 12 servers. But what nobody realized is that these people also cooked and served lunch. So in the end no one lost their jobs.
Perspective: No one was fired?
AHE: Not exactly, they were rehired through a bidding process. Most employees got the same job back. Eliot and Kirkland have one cook for breakfast now. Last semester Kirkland and Eliot each had their own cooks to make the grill items for breakfast.
Perspective: Was he laid off?
AHE: No, they just moved him around. There we no layoffs because there are enough positions to be filled.
Perspective: So that cook could just have stayed in Kirkland House? He didn’t have to be moved around.
AHE: Well, rehiring was done as a bidding process based on seniority.
Perspective: This all sounds very unnecessary.
AHE: In the end, basically, yes. Last year Harvard University offered early retirement for people within FAS. This included everybody, so people from dining services took early retirement. Between early retirement and the biding process that meant there were extra positions.
Perspective: What hours does the breakfast and lunch staff work?
AHE: It depends on the house. Usually 6am-3pm or 7am-4pm, but we work for 8 hrs plus two half hour meal breaks that we don’t get paid for.
Perspective: So is the dinner shift a part time position?
AHE: No, employees that work the dinner shift come in at 11:30am.
Perspective: Have there been hour cuts as a result of the removal of hot breakfast?
AHE: I don’t know. You have to talk to the management of HUDS. They should release the numbers saying how many full-time employees they had before the hot breakfast cut, and how many more part-time workers they have now. HUDS has something called full- time equivalence. So if they have two employees working 20 hours, that’s one full-time equivalence.
Perspective: Is there any significant savings from removing the hot foods?
AHE: Well, HUDS also increased prepared packaged foods that they offer in the houses. They are offering more yogurts, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, more expensive foods. Is HUDS really offering less food? Isn’t the same amount of people still eating breakfast?
Perspective: How has the removal of hot breakfast affected students?
AHE: Before, upperclassmen were welcome to eat at Annenberg, but now it is almost mandatory if you want a hot breakfast.
Perspective: Annenberg seats 600 people. How many people show up for breakfast?
AHE: The number is slowly falling. It depends on the day of the week. This week has not been very busy, but the previous two weeks 1300 people showed up for breakfast a day.
Perspective: What happens to the quality of food when you cook for 1300 in a facility that is meant for half that?
AHE: When we are busy we can’t keep up. Because of all the eggs that need to be cooked there is not enough grill space for breakfast entrees, so frozen foods, such as Egg-o waffles, are put in the ovens and served.
Perspective: How does the current demand for breakfast at Annenberg affect the people working there?
AHE: Unfortunately most students come after 8:30am, so we get a rush of students between 9-10:30. We close at 11 but we still have to clean the floors, the servery, take the breakfast foods away, clean all the dishes, and then get ready for lunch. So what happens is breakfast runs into lunch. So employees have to stagger their lunch hour, and can no longer eat as a group. Some people will clean and get ready for lunch while others eat, then they switch.
Perspective: Is this causing an increase in the possibility of injury?
AHE: I think so. If students have a 10am class then they all want to put away their dishes at 9:45. So there are these huge lines by the belt, and only two people in the back collecting dishes.
Perspective: Will things cool down now that students’ schedules are stabilizing?
AHE: Normally, as the year progresses, less people show up for breakfast. But I worry about finals week. Everyone is going to want a big breakfast before a test, but the only dining hall with hot breakfast is Annenberg. What is going to happen when every student on campus comes in for breakfast, and why didn’t Harvard consider these scenarios before they removed hot breakfast from the 12 houses?