Lower enrollment, higher costs leads LCC to rethink food services on Eugene campus

(SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. -- More than 20 jobs are at stake for food service employees at Lane Community College.

According to LCC officials, enrollment for winter term is down 3.5% compared to this time last year.

In order to balance their budget, LCC says they may have to cut food service jobs and replace them with vendors.

“It's like getting a car and then having the tires taken off of it so you can't drive it; we're stuck,” said longtime food service employee Bruce Barker.

Once a large operation, there are now only five full time employees with the rest working part time.

“It was a beehive of activity all over the place; we had different food things going on all over the campus and now it's come down to what you see back here,” said Barker.

Low enrollment and high costs have pushed LCC officials to rethink the need for the current food service department.

This includes everyone from dishwashers, to cooks and servers.

“We had three different food and beverage managers in two years here and Dave just got here; give him a chance to get something going,” said Barker.

LCC Food Service Manager David Ferris says he's spoken with the board several times trying to come up with a cost saving solution.

‘There's very little appetite among the board for making this kind of a drastic change of eliminating programs and bringing in outside vendors, so they're really looking to us to provide them with an option,” said Ferris.

In a written statement, LCC's Public Information Office said: “Food service expenses have exceeded revenues for five straight years despite valiant efforts by staff to turn things around.... And by law, the board must adapt a balanced budget by June.”

“Moving food services, it really puts a strain on the students as well in terms of how they're able to feed themselves and if they're here for the whole day... everyone knows you learn better on a full stomach,” said Ferris.

The cafeteria at LCC is the only dining option for students on campus.

“If there's no students to cook for, there's nothing to do. We need enrollment to go up; we need some people out here, that's what we need,” said Barker.

The board has until June 30 to come up with a solution.

Some of the food service employees are students themselves.

Workers are planning to speak at a board meeting Thursday night at LCC to discuss ways to keep their jobs.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the board room in Building Three.

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