Plates, cups, cookware, utensils and other items are broken and stolen on a daily basis in UVM’s dining halls, Sodexo employees said.
“It creates a dark cloud over the whole dining experience,” Sodexo supervisor Michael Stabach said, explaining the theft he observes daily at the Marché. UVM is required to provide an initial inventory of smallwares for Sodexo, according to the contract between UVM and Sodexo. Sodexo is required to pay for replacement smallwares each month, according to the agreement.
Ron Chasse, operations director of UVM Dining Services, said that the biggest item lost by Sodexo is silverware, which can break, be thrown away or stolen.
“It’s not like it’s a million dollars a year, but it’s enough to increase the cost of food,” Chasse said.
Four times a year, a manager replaces a case of 600 utensils in the Davis Center. In dining halls it is replaced twice a year, Chasse said. “[It’s] low end silverware, so it’s not too expensive. Medium-weight silverware, forks, knives and spoons have different prices, but about $25 a dozen,” Chasse said. “If I had to put a dollar figure on the whole china thing on campus, because I typically am the person who orders it, I would say about $20,000 a year, if we add it all together,” Chasse said.
Students on campus have also noticed smallwares being taken from the dining halls. “Whenever I go to people’s dorms they always have cups and bowls and stuff you can recognize from the dining halls,” junior Dylan Languth said.
“Personally, I haven’t stolen anything, but it’s something that I’ve heard of,” first-year Alex Brannon said. “I haven’t seen it, but I think it’s a common occurrence.”
Chasse said the meal plan is based on what estimated overhead costs will be and that students are not charged a single fee for stolen utensils.
The housing contract for students does not have any such fee either, Director of ResLife Stacey Miller said. “I think what you’re hearing is rumors and myth basically,” Miller said. “These stories are the same I heard when I was in college. There are operating costs associated with loss of equipment, but there probably isn’t one per student charge.”
The money that Sodexo gets each year from the University is determined by the meal plan rates defined in the contract between Sodexo and the University, said Vice Provost of Student Affairs Annie Stevens.