Michigan State University is so short on dining staff its asking professors and staff to volunteer

Michigan State University
  • Michigan State University’s dining halls need more workers.
  • It has asked over 100 full-time residential and hospitality services administrative employees to work a few hours a week.
  • But now the university’s residential and hospitality services is seeing if faculty and staff are willing to pitch in their time.

Michigan State University is just one of many places needing more workers. The university is seeking faculty and staff who are willing to help with the shortage of workers in the dining halls.

According to reporting from the Lansing State Journal, part of the staffing issue is because of the fewer student workers. Usually there would be almost ​​4,000 students working in the dining halls; there were 1,200 as of the end of September per Lansing State Journal.

Vennie Gore, senior vice president for residential and hospitality services and auxiliary enterprises, sent out an email to deans, directors, and chairs that they’re looking for staff and faculty members to assist in the dining halls and to spread the word with their departments, according to Lansing State Journal. Gore noted in the email “We have specific needs during evenings and weekends,” the report said.

The email notes that the school already asked 132 full-time administrative employees of residential and hospitality services to work at the dining halls for eight hours a week.

Despite the need for more people working in the dining halls, Kat Cooper, director of communications for the division of residential and hospitality services at the university, told The Detroit News that the situation in the dining halls is getting better as they hire more. They have also increased starting wages in the dining services to attract workers.

Not everyone was thrilled with the call for staff and faculty volunteers.

Richard Davila, a research specialist at the university, told The Detroit News that the email was “tone-deaf” and added “MSU is having a hard time competing to get people to come work in culinary services,” but isn’t the faculty and staff’s fault.

“If they want to be more competitive, they need to make their compensation and benefit package more competitive,” Davila told The Detroit News.

The leisure and hospitality industry is especially having a hard time finding and retaining workers. Restaurants and other food businesses are competing to fill open roles. Workers in food service are quitting for other better paying opportunities as well. The quit rate for accommodation and food services in particular was at a high of 6.8% in August.

Restaurants and other businesses have increased pay and are offering incentives like sign on bonuses to attract new workers. Other sectors looking for workers are offering sign on bonuses as well, such as some childcare centers and places looking to hire more bus drivers.

Michigan State University isn’t the only college desperate for workers, specifically in dining services.

A worker for University of Georgia’s dining services told Yahoo Finance that “everybody’s overworked.”

“Mad rush describes it pretty well – staffing shortages, supply chain shortages, a rush of students coming in who are new to campus,” the employee told Yahoo Finance.

Other colleges like Indiana University and UC San Diego are among those feeling the strains of the labor shortage with more students back on campuses this academic year. Students at these schools said they’re facing long wait times.