News, On Campus

BC Dining Adapts to Nationwide Food and Supply Shortages Fueled by COVID-19 Pandemic

From food and beverages to paper products and equipment, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the nationwide supply chain and everyone is feeling its impacts, according to Tom Williams, associate director of Boston College Auxiliary Services.

“Every person is feeling the effects of the national truck driver shortage and the lack of workers needed to produce all proteins and produce,” Williams wrote in an email to The Heights. “This is impacting every school and restaurant in the Boston area and across the United States.” 

Supply chain shortages quickly became an issue for all industries early in the pandemic and will most likely continue well into 2022, according to CNN. Ongoing disruptions with manufacturers and the shipping industry have bred uncertainty about how long the shortages will last.

Renovations in Carney’s dining hall in McElroy Commons, which is the main dining hall for freshmen living on Upper Campus, have been delayed until January 2022 due to these supply shortages. In the meantime, BC Dining has erected a temporary layout.

Due to social distancing protocols in manufacturing plants, there is a reduced production of certain products, which has caused BC Dining to substitute items such as cups and food containers with less convenient options, Williams said.

We are in constant contact with our suppliers to revise forecasts and consider alternative products but we remain vigilant to the needs of our students that may have dietary restrictions,” Williams wrote.

Other schools, including the University of Northern Iowa, have also had to consider using alternative products, reportedly using styrofoam plates and bowls. 

According to Williams, many products have already been discontinued temporarily due to these shortages.

“There are currently certain beverage products that have been temporarily discontinued due to the world-wide shortage of plastic resin to make bottles, production labor shortages and the availability of trucks to ship their products,” Williams wrote.

College campuses across the country have also reported facing labor shortages in their dining halls—from staffing challenges at Princeton to employee shortages in dining services at Illinois State. Lafayette College reported wide-scale labor shortages and difficulties hiring truck drivers, which have led to product delays and shortages. 

Other dining facilities across the country have had to limit their hours, such as The Commons at Duke University, or reduce service capabilities, such as catering services at Washington State.

BC Dining has been consistently kept up to date on the status of shortages in order to adapt accordingly, Williams said.

“Since early in 2021 our vendor partners have kept us informed about labor and raw material shortages through our regular communication,” he wrote. “We have been developing contingencies and alternative product substitutions.”

September 19, 2021