Sodexo, which runs Augustana’s dining services, began this fall semester with 1,000 to-go containers. The containers were instituted this year as an option for students to take their food away from the dining hall for more flexibility and a chance to socially distance.
As of October 29th, only 22 remain. The missing boxes, which cost $5 each, mean a loss of $4,890.
Sodexo officials are not sure why this loss happened. However, Jonathan Ricks, operations manager of dining services, said that students had been asked to return them throughout the semester.
“I am a true believer in communication always being the main issue when it comes to almost every area of opportunity,” he said. “I do know we told almost all students as we handed them the boxes to please return [them].”
The boxes have clearly been a hit with students. Senior Danielle Alan says she uses the to-go feature almost every night for supper.
“I just like that I don’t have to sit in the dining hall,” she said. “I can just get it and take it back to my room.”
Alan plans on continuing to use the to-go boxes next semester if they are still offered.
As of now, dining services is planning on getting more of the recyclable boxes for spring semester. Jonathan Ricks, operations manager of dining services, said that he believes some groups around campus, currently not decided, will be helping out with the cost, as opposed to the school itself paying for more boxes.
Students seem to believe that the reasons boxes aren’t being returned is because there is no system to ensure students will bring them back.
“I like them, but I think they were doomed from the start,” sophomore Michael Schempp said. “There’s no accountability.”
Junior Taha Afzal echoed Schempp’s sentiments. “Maybe if they charged people for the boxes, people will be more inclined to return them,” he said.
Afzal, a VA in Bergsaker, finds boxes sitting in day rooms and the kitchen when he’s on rounds. He said he doesn’t know whether or not it’s a matter of students being lazy or just forgetting.
Ricks acknowledges the issue with not having any form of accountability and said dining services is forming a system to place deposits of $5 on each box. Ricks said Sodexo is not entirely sure on where those deposits will be held, and that they are still trying to figure that out.
“This will help offset costs if they plan on getting food to go and add some accountability and give them incentive to return boxes,” he said.
While the missing boxes are frustrating to dining staff, Ricks looks at it in a more optimistic way.
“It’s unfortunate that this happened, but I do feel that it was a learning opportunity for everyone,” he said. “It’s a brand new idea we implemented with all the right intentions.”
Boxes can be returned to any of the receptacles around campus, or to the dining hall directly.