Dining services coordinate

Surveys conducted by the Law School showed issues with quality and service at its dining hall, leading the school to consolidate its services.
Surveys conducted by the Law School showed issues with quality and service at its dining hall, leading the school to consolidate its services. Photo by YDN.

After operating independently for several years, Yale Law School’s dining hall is consolidating some functions with central campus’s Yale Dining this year.

Because the Law School hosts a variety of catered events each day, Yale Dining will help the Law School’s dining hall staff speakers and other organized lunches and dinners, Law School Associate Dean for Finance and Administration Brent Dickman said. He added that the two catering services will also consolidate their catering, ordering and invoicing systems to save money and allow students and faculty to buy food faster.

“The survey results confirmed that there were occasionally some issues with [the Law School’s dining hall] service and quality because we were stretched too thin,” Dickman said. “We were trying to do too much all the time because our dining hall was the sole provider of food in the Law School.”

On a daily basis, he added that Law School dining staff would have to cater up to 15 events during lunch in addition to providing regular food services.

Law School administrators began to re-evaluate their dining services after the 2008 economic recession forced the school to deal with budget cuts, Dickman said, and spent this past spring deciding how to make the dining hall most cost-effective. As part of this effort, the Law School and Yale Dining will work to maximize resource sharing between the two dining services, representatives said, and two Law School dining hall workers have moved to fill vacancies in the central campus staff.

“We think these are positive changes for everybody,” Dickman said. “By partnering with Yale Dining, both operations are more efficient, we save students money, and we will have better selections.”

In addition to figuring out how to save money, the Law School dining hall is now accepting credit and debit cards to decrease the time it takes for customers to buy food. The Law School dining hall — where students buy food instead of swiping in the way students do at undergraduate dining halls — consulted Yale Dining on how best to make this change because the University’s dining services run several successful retail stores, including Durfee’s and the Thain Family Cafe.

Patricia Avent, a cashier at the Law School dining hall, said that students who pay with credit or debit cards move through lines faster because they do not have to look for spare change, adding that she also expects the barcode system to increase efficiency once cashiers get used to using it. Five law students interviewed said they appreciated being able to pay with cards.

Although two of five law students interviewed said they wish their dining hall had more food options, Stephanie Turner LAW ’12 said she enjoyed the food at last Friday’s Law School Community Picnic, which was catered by Yale Dining. The food variety at the picnic made a “nice change,” she added.

For financial reasons, Yale Dining discontinued undergraduate swipes at the Law School dining hall in July 2009.

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