Connor Coddington, Kevin Hines, & Tyler Garrison
SGA Leadership

Treasa McLean

Assistant Vice President, Procurement, & Auxiliary Enterprises
Florida Polytechnic University

Dear Ms. McLean,

This letter is composed by the leaders of each branch of Student Government Association. We are writing to you representing the student body at Florida Polytechnic University. During the short time we’ve been on campus, there have already been numerous COVID-19 concerns with the way food is being prepared/served and the availability of food on campus. Our message is backed with data from over 250 student input responses and research of the contract between the university and Chartwells. The students are concerned about the safety of eating at on-campus dining locations due to COVID-19 cases and the continual decline in food availability as locations close and hours shorten.

Monday, September 18th, students entered the wellness center in the morning to see the doors to Einstein’s and Tu Taco had not opened. Einstein’s was “Temporarily Closed – Reopening 9/25 *Subject to change” without reason [1][2]. Tuesday, Phoenix Dining in a press release stated the reason for closure was because an employee tested positive for COVID-19 [3]. This caused and is continuing to cause an interruption for students who go there for breakfast or lunch. For students that have the 10 meal/week plan, they are struggling to adequately eat all the food they need in a week. They must either spend $10.85 of their declining balance on lunch, which could cause students to run out before the end of the semester or eat a snack at the Mosaic Café [4]. We recognize that Einstein’s was closed for the safety of the students, faculty, and staff, but are concerned with the lack of prompt communication, and reduction of necessary dining options on campus. How will future COVID-19 cases be dealt with? What will be done now to ensure the dining hall does not close?  

Before coming to campus at the start of the school year the students were promised certain safety commitments that would be followed by all Phoenix Dining associates [5]. The general manager, Jenifer Dignin, said “Our dining venues will be open with safety measures in place to ensure students receive meals in the safest way possible this fall [6].” Some of these commitments and safety measures include, completing daily wellness checks and wearing masks. Students have reported seeing workers constantly pull down their masks to talk. Some students even reported being told that if you stand a little further back from the temperature scan that it will read a lower temperature. We know that this work around doesn’t work, but it goes to show the active disregard for the commitments made and even more for the students, faculty, and staff’s safety. For these safety measures to work it requires full cooperation and enforcement.

A recent proposal to the dining committee was to cut hours or completely close most dining options on campus [7]. This would involve having Einstein’s closing at 2:00 pm, Tu Taco opening at 5:00 pm and closing at 9:00 pm, and the Mosaic Café closing completely. If this proposal were to go into effect, there would be NO dining option open anywhere on campus from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Students are already not very satisfied with the hours of the dining options on campus with an average of 3 on a 1 to 5 scale [8]. Since Chartwells started operating Florida Poly dining, hours have decreased every year. Students used to have a choice between Einstein’s or Tu Taco when deciding what to eat for lunch. We, the student body, are strongly opposed to reducing hours more than the current amount because the current hours are already at a bare minimum. Meal plans have gotten more expensive every year while the hours continue to decrease without an increase in the quality or satisfaction of Phoenix Dining [8][9].

This letter was written to address the most urgent concerns. There are many topics that are not included in this letter that are also important to us, such as Tu Taco not converting into a new restaurant, the satisfaction of food at the dining hall, and the requirement for students living on campus to have a meal plan. We hope this letter can open a line of communication between the student body and those who make decisions regarding dining operations. The dining committee should strive to have decisions be made that best represent the needs of the student body. We know it can be frustrating to see concerns without actions to take, so we’ve listed the minimum changes of what we would like to see below.

Solutions:

  • While Einstein’s staff are in isolation, extend Tu Taco hours through the duration of Einstein’s normal operating hours.
  • Publicly document a plan of action if a Chartwells Associate test positive for COVID-19. The plan should allow for the dining hall to continue to remain open if students are on campus. In the case where it is required for one dining option to close, an equivalent option in value and quality should be made available.
  • Workers should abide by the safety commitments, and those safety commitments enforced.
  • Keep the existing hours for all campus dining locations.

Regards,

Connor Coddington,
SGA President

Kevin Hines,
Senate President

Tyler Garrison,
Chief Justice

Sources:

[1] Notice of Einstein’s Closed Until 9/28: https://www.facebook.com/FLPolyPhoenixDining/photos/a.438833589812555/1252039531825286/
[2] Notice of Einstein’s Closed Until 9/25: https://www.facebook.com/FLPolyPhoenixDining/posts/1252721468423759
[3] Notice of Chartwells Associate testing positive for COVID-19: https://new.dineoncampus.com/FLPoly/covid19-updates
[4] Fall 2020 Dining hall prices: https://new.dineoncampus.com/FLPoly/wellness-dining-center
[5] Safety Commitments: https://www.facebook.com/FLPolyPhoenixDining/photos/a.438833589812555/1203491750013398/
[6] A message from the manager:  https://dineoncampus.com/FLPoly/covid19-updates
[7] Proposal to reduce hours stated in dining committee meeting September 4th
[8] Satisfaction and quality derived from SGA Dining Services Survey
[9] Meal Plan Cost is stated in the Chartwells contract

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Guest Author(s)

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Connor Coddington

Connor Coddington is the Student Body President for 2020.

Kevin Hines

Kevin Hines is the SGA Senate President for 2020.

Tyler Garrison

Tyler Garrison is the SGA Judicial Branch Chief Justice.

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