Eating at Pfeiffer Dining Hall is an experience everyone on campus has had at some time. However, taking food to go is also becoming a common experience.
Blair Stairs, general manager of Simpson Dining Services, said students do steal food from Pfeiffer, and some have even tried to take food in bulk.
“We have on occasion observed customers filling containers on the salad bar and/or taking food out of Pfeiffer in large quantities,” Stairs said.
Pfeiffer isn’t the only place students steal food.
“We have … observed customers trying to take food and beverages out of the Storm Street Grill without paying for it,” Stairs said.
Freshman Kent Efkamp has seen people steal food from the Grill. While he has never stolen anything himself, he understands why people do it.
“The food is too expensive,” Efkamp said. “Besides, it is easy to do.”
Freshman Kelsey Bolton, a work-study student at the Grill, said she understands why food gets stolen, but she doesn’t like it.
“I understand that people feel the food is too expensive,” Bolton said. “However, I don’t think they realize prices may go up if they continue to steal.”
Economically, prices at both the Grill and Pfeiffer could go up if food continues to be taken.
“Food is not supposed to be taken out of the dining hall,” Stairs said. “If food is taken out of the dining hall in large quantities, the cost of food will increase. At this point, I do not feel we have a major problem with large quantities of food leaving Pfeiffer which could significantly impact meal prices.”
When someone is caught taking food out of the dining areas, Stairs said they’re usually cooperative.
“When we observe [stealing], we talk to the customers and reiterate the food policy,” Stairs said. “Most of these customers have been cooperative and understanding of the situation.”
Food is stolen because many feel the prices are unnecessary and there is barely a punishment even if a student is caught.
Stairs said it’s not considered stealing if a customer is seen eating a small piece of food while leaving Pfeiffer. There is also a difference between stealing food and wasting food.
“Stealing and wasting food are two separate scenarios,” Stairs said. “If a person is stealing food, the intent to do so is evident. However, wasting food can be a function of our eyes are bigger than our stomach. The person may not be intentionally wasting food.”
Stairs said this is the continual difficulty while being in charge of an all-you-can-eat operation.
“In an all-you-care-to-eat venue such as Pfeiffer, customers are allowed to choose food from a variety of food stations,” Stairs said. “When an all-you-care-to-eat venue is experienced for the first time, people tend to take more food than they can consume. I believe there is a learning curve involved. I tend to see less waste later in the school year than at the beginning.”
Also to help keep down food waste in Pfeiffer, some foods are portioned out. Stairs reiterates the buffet-style dining experience by saying customers can always come back for more.