Umpqua Community College’s Chief Financial Officer Natalye Brown hosted a focus group on April 12, to brainstorm ways to make the campus cafeteria profitable.
According to a report by UCC president Debra Thatcher at the April 10 board meeting, the cafeteria has been running a deficit in seven of the past nine years — from as little as $3,814 to as much as $122,687.
Catering will also be under review, as its negative fund balance increased to $207,855 in 2018.
River Rush Catering serves food for fundraisers, conferences, weddings, luncheons, workshops and more, according to its website. The college combined catering and the cafeteria when it took services back in 2017.
UCC’s bookstore was able to subsidize food services for those years with amounts ranging from $50,000 to $114,508. Thatcher said this practice cannot be sustained as the bookstore revenue is also dropping.
“We work really hard now to reduce the price of books for students,” Thatcher said. “No cost and low-cost books are really helping our students a lot, but it also means the bookstore is not making the amount of revenue to give back to the coffers.”
When the college attempted to outsource food service during the fiscal years 2016 and 2017, Loggers Tap House was the only vendor to respond. Loggers Cafe was open for nearly two years before the college took services back.
In a May 4, 2017, article in The News-Review, former UCC Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Redell said Sam Gross of Loggers Tap House did not renew his two-year contract, because he “had other businesses he wanted to focus on, and the college is now ready to take that service over.”
According to Thatcher’s report, Loggers Cafe did meet the needs of the college.
Options being considered by the focus group include a micro-market, food trucks or another vendor.
Administrators hope to present recommendations to the board during the May 9 Board of Education meeting.