Investigation exposes food service issue

April 1, 2011 Latest Print Print
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Carson’s Catering manager Corrine Aguilar has promised her staff will adhere to the posted hours for breakfast and evening service after an investigation by the Pioneer showed the food service staff on campus is sometimes closing early.

Pioneer reporters monitored the hours of Carson’s Catering and Deli from March 3 until March 22.

Carson’s contract with OCCC stipulates the hours of operation.

Over a 10-day period, Carson’s opened late one day, switched from breakfast to lunch early on all 10 days, and closed early on four days.

The biggest infraction was employees ending breakfast an average of 15 minutes earlier than the 10:30 a.m. posted time.

Carson’s employees also closed the cafeteria anywhere from five to 10 minutes earlier than the posted hours four times during the 10 days.

Aguilar admits the concerns are legitimate.

Although she is on the job 10 hours a day, Aguilar said, she can’t be present during all the hours the food service is open.

She said her employees should start making the change from breakfast to lunch right at 10:30 a.m.

“I know that the lady that works there … starts cooking lunch while she is doing breakfast because we don’t have a turnaround,” Aguilar said.

“Most places, you have a small turnaround.”

She cited McDonald’s as an example, where, she said, breakfast and lunch shifts often overlap.

She said she can’t be everywhere at once and doesn’t understand why her shift supervisors aren’t being more vigilant.

“I have people work different shifts with supervisors and they’re supposed to be watching their employees, and I don’t know why they’re not,” she said.

“I have five other people who work under me and that’s their job, to watch them. I constantly get after them about it.”

Aguliar said Carson’s should never close early for any reason. She said she replaced one worker who failed to adhere to the posted hours.

Aguliar said she plans to monitor her employees more closely.

“I’m going to be watching and if they’re not doing their jobs, there are other people that need jobs,” she said. “We will hire somebody else.”

Aguilar said she takes it seriously when students aren’t able to get food at scheduled times.

“I’ve written up my employees and I’ve let people go for this,” she said. “If I have to get rid of my whole staff that’s doing this, I will.”

Brenda Carpenter, assistant director of Finance, said she was unaware of any complaints concerning Carson’s and plans to speak with management promptly.

If necessary, Carpenter said, she “wholeheartedly” agrees with Aguliar dismissing any of the current Carson’s staff who do not adhere to the contract schedule.

Carpenter said OCCC does not sanction closing early unless it is approved.

“Adhering to the schedule as stated in the contract is a top priority,” Carpenter said, “We insist upon it.

“They know what hours they are supposed to work. They know to stay open.”

Aguilar said she wants to take care of students.

“I’m here for you guys,” she said. “That’s part of what I’m going to address with my staff … that students and staff pay their wages.”

The Pioneer ran a letter to the editor March 18 in which OCCC student Jeff Porter claimed Carson’s was closing early and that the college made up any money Carson’s lost.

Aguilar said Carson’s is not subsidized by OCCC.

“We have to make a profit, yes, but the school doesn’t subsidize us,” she said. “The school doesn’t give us money. The reason we don’t stay open until 8 o’clock, even though we want to, is because our sales are not there,” she said.

“From five to six o’clock, we have very few sales. It’s just that little group of people that come in before class.

“We do offer food at the Coffee Shop after six o’clock, but (the cafeteria food service) should not be closing before six,” she said.

An employee who asked not to be named said there were legitimate reasons for ending breakfast early. He said it gives him extra time to set up the line for shift turnover.

“If I’m by myself, it makes it pretty hard to get everything set up and served at the same time. I try to do it but sometimes I can’t.”

Aguilar said she has a stellar track record in restaurant management.

“[Negative feedback] literally upsets me,” she said. “I’ve never had a bad record anywhere at work.

“It really makes me feel bad. We’re not here to mistreat the students in any way and I take it personal.”

Aguilar said she encourages students to use the drop box, located outside the entrance of Carson’s, to file complaints.

“Most of the complaints I get, on the complaint cards … the students don’t leave their name.”

She said she takes every comment “very seriously.

“I check that box once a week.”

Students have mixed feelings about Carson’s.

Some say they have no problems with the area.

Nursing student Mario Kezic said he goes to Carson’s because of the convenience and has been happy with the service.

“I think the cafeteria has good hours [although] some people say breakfast is closing too soon,” Kezic said.

“But nationwide, breakfast is closing at the same time. You wouldn’t go to McDonalds and complain to them so why do it to the cafeteria? It’s a business. It could be because they don’t have enough business to stay open.”

Hannah Fischer, sonography major, said procrastination is the problem.“I think 10:30 is a great time to close breakfast. Everyone should get up earlier to make it here to eat.”

Other students say Carson’s needs to keep their posted hours but don’t.

Leah Flores, sociology major, said she takes night classes and it seems Carson’s always closes early.

“It would be nice if they were open until at least six,” Flores said.

Joe Krieger, business major. said he also has experienced issues with early closing times.

“I came up here for some schooling and whenever I tried to get something to eat about 5:45 p.m. — a quarter of an hour before they were supposed to be closed — they had basically gotten rid of everything except for the salad bar.

“I’ve had about 10 different fast food jobs in my lifetime and if we flat out told customers they couldn’t have something 15 minutes before close, we all would have been fired. I wasn’t happy about it but what could you do? It’s like ‘well shit, I’ll just take a salad.’”

Aguilar said she plans to take the Pioneer’s record of Carson’s opening and closing times to a staff meeting on March 25.

“We’re here for the convenience of the students.”

She also encourages students to e-mail her at caguilar@occc.edu.

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