Serving our servers

by Soomedha Vasudevan

Every day, as mealtime approaches, students eagerly make their way to their preferred dining hall or take-out spot in search of the perfect meal. Whether indulging in a classic sit-down experience at De Neve, savoring pasta at Epicuria or opting for the conveniently portable burrito bowl from Rendezvous, the dining hall staff at UCLA paves the ways for these culinary choices.

The dining hall workers are adults and college students, just like you and me. Together, they help usher students, cook, serve food, wash dishes and set up the dining areas. Despite the seamless operation of this well-coordinated machine, the smooth functioning heavily relies on the considerate behavior of students. What can students do to lighten the load of these under-appreciated workers?

Let’s start with dining halls: De Neve, Bruin Plate and Epicuria. To keep the lines short and efficient, make sure to have your BruinCard out so staff can swipe students in quickly and without wasting time. After walking in, make sure you do not grab a tray. While this is common etiquette at summer camps and mall food courts, they create a lot more hassle than necessary for our dining workers. Of course, always remember common decency, like making sure to bus all of your dishes and not leaving food or napkins on the tables.

Another important task is separating your utensils from your plates and placing them in the buckets below the dish racks. Kirt Grewel, a second year computer engineering student and De Neve worker, said, “The utensils are washed separately from the plates, so this helps the staff stay more organized as they don’t need to worry about also having to separate them as the dishes come along the dish room.” If increasing our dining staff’s workload is not a deterrent from leaving the utensils with the plates, there is another consequence. “Because of how the dishes are washed, there’s a small chance utensils could be missed and washed away with the food, which may (lead to the loss of) a utensil and cause issues in the shredder,” Grewel said. This is one of the most important ways students can help the dining staff.

Additionally, an easy way students can be courteous is by making sure to put all their dishes in the dish room so the staff know which tables they should clean. If they see even one cup on the table, the staff are unsure if they should wait to see if someone comes back to the table or if they should clear and clean the table. Grewel said, “This is especially bad on crowded days when every seat is packed and as much space as possible is needed.” By putting away dishes, we ensure that every student has a clean table and that the dining hall staff are able to do their job without having to wonder about students’ whereabouts. It is also important to try not to sneak fruit out of the dining halls. If you get caught, dining workers have yet another thing to take care of that could have been easily avoided.

Other top eating options on the Hill include the array of take-out restaurants. Rendezvous, The Study and Feast all provide wrapped and portable food that students can eat inside or take outside. As many have noticed, The Study and Rendezvous now use mobile ordering. Make sure you only enter the dining hall after the app says “Pick Up”. It may be tempting to queue up in-person earlier than your order is ready, but workers cannot let you in until your app officially say it’s time to pick up. Once again, following the rules of having your BruinCard out and cleaning up after yourself stays important. One thing some students don’t realize is that the tables outside these dining halls also reflect on them, so always pick up after yourself even when not eating at their inside tables.

These seem to be small rules that students pick up during their first quarters here, either from listening to older students or by watching others’ habits. But sometimes they can be easy to forget, especially when midterms or finals are around the corner. Nevertheless, it is important to consciously make decisions that will help the dining halls run smoothly. Students really enjoy the UCLA’s food, with the chicken at BPlate, the delicious Rendezvous burritos or De Neve’s Margherita pizza. This is why it’s even more important that we do the small things to make our dining staff’s lives easier.

Featured Image Photographed by Julia Gu/BruinLife

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