Visitors to Peirce Hall may soon see students on the other side of the serving station.
Food service provider AVI hired Liam Leonard-Solis ’16 in October, and Maggie Doyle ’18 in November, to work part-time at the dining hall, joining AVI’s about 100 full- and part-time employees. Though this is not the first time students have worked at Peirce Hall, it is the first time they have worked at Peirce since AVI began managing Kenyon’s food service in 2006.
AVI is hoping the student workers’ help will reduce wait times, an issue that has become troublesome in recent months due to AVI’s struggles to retain staff, coupled with a large first-year class on campus.
“We’re trying to improve the service,” Kim Novak, resident director of AVI Foodsystems for Kenyon, said. “Our goal is definitely to have great food and serve it in a timely manner, and to have plenty of it.”
Since assuming control of operations at Peirce, AVI had not attempted to hire Kenyon students because they had no compelling need for them, according to Novak. AVI’s union contract prohibits the company from hiring Kenyon student workers to work more than 20 hours per week. Novak said the need for assistance at certain times of day, such as peak meal times, motivated AVI to change its standards regarding student workers.
Novak said AVI is still looking to hire roughly four more students to work as platers, the staff members who place food prepared by cooks on plates and set those plates out at different stations.
The company has advertised student positions on its Facebook page as well as through listings on Kenyon’s Symplicity job-search system. On Oct. 15, Peirce Hall posted on both Facebook and Twitter: “Need extra cash? Have a few hours a week that you want to work? Come apply today to be a plater here @ Peirce Dining.”
“We are hoping that there are some students out there that could use a paycheck every two weeks to increase their pocket money, and we really want to open the door to that,” Novak said. The pay rate for Kenyon students working for AVI is $10.06 per hour, which is above the Ohio minimum hourly wage of $8.10.
Leonard-Solis was the first Kenyon student to join the AVI team this year. He was officially offered a job on Oct. 21 in a Facebook message from Peirce Hall, and began work four days later.
“I have experience working in restaurants the past several years, so I thought this would be a good opportunity,” Leonard-Solis said.
Leonard-Solis works 12 hours a week, spread across Sunday mornings and Monday and Friday evenings.
“At Peirce, everyone’s been friendly,” he said. “I feel like they want to make me a part of the team.”
On Monday, Novak interviewed and hired Doyle, who previously worked for a candy store in California. Doyle found the job listing on Symplicity.
“The hours fit what I needed perfectly,” said Doyle, who is scheduled to work 10 hours per week.
Doyle received word over the weekend that she had been hired, and began work Wednesday, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. She also said that she was received warmly by AVI employees.
“They really do care about the students in a way that I hadn’t considered before,” Doyle said.
Novak said she hoped interest in the position would grow. Thus far, she has only conducted interviews with Leonard-Solis and Doyle, but Novak said she “would like 15 more” interviews with potential student workers.