WINCHESTER — Catering services by Umpqua Community College were cut during the UCC board meeting on Wednesday, while a decision on the fate of the campus cafeteria is under discussion.
The board of directors unanimously approved the motion to outsource catering, introduced by Director David Littlejohn. The makeup of the campus cafeteria is expected to be discussed at the June 12 board meeting.
Campus administrators proposed to partner with an already existing vendor to open a micro-market in the bookstore, but board members asked for more options.
Littlejohn said the administrators’ plan seemed to be created “in the vacuum of accounting, while ignoring the culture.”
UCC Cafeteria Specialist Steven Fair-Harrison said he felt his solutions had fallen on deaf ears.
He suggested eliminating food sales from the bookstore, taking on small on-campus catering jobs, or outsourcing cafeteria sources to outside businesses.
“We have reviewed those ideas and there would be a deficit,” UCC chief financial officer Natalya Brown said.
UCC President Debra Thatcher added that she was “confident we have explored all possibilities.”
The cafeteria has run at a deficit seven of the past nine years, including a negative fund balance of $10,854 in the 2018 fiscal year and a negative balance of $27,754 through April 30 for the 2019 fiscal year.
Catering had a $207,855 deficit in the 2018 fiscal year and a $234,544 through the first four months of 2019.
“Anyone who’s ever cooked knows it’s a labor of love,” Courtney Mochizuki said. “All that effort, love and care is worth forgetting the bottom line.”
Umpqua is one of five community colleges in Oregon that still provides an in-house cafeteria — 11 contract out and one has no cafeteria.
Under the proposal of the micro-market, the place to socialize would remain while people would have options for wraps, sandwiches and possibly pizza or soups, among other items. The micro-market would move into the bookstore by the beginning of fall term, if approved by the board.
“The proposal is the opposite of what the ask is,” Director Doris Lathrop said. “It seems cold. It reminds me of an airport. I for one would not support vending machines.”
Brown created a slide presentation that showed the average daily sales of the cafeteria are $502.
She also completed a variety of surveys from staff and students to gather input on how to help offset the cafeteria’s deficit.
According to Brown’s survey, 77% of students and 82% of staff use the cafeteria, with the majority saying they come a few times a week.
UCC Registration and Records Specialist Cathy Chapman spoke in support of the cafeteria: “It’s a huge community part of this college.”
In the survey, 41% of people said they would prefer to bring food trucks to campus if the cafeteria was eliminated.
The survey also revealed that 25% of people found the cafeteria too expensive, while 21% asked the college not to close the cafeteria because it’s a place to socialize, study and network.