Contrary to student speculations, the paper plates and bowls currently offered at Peirce are not a result of missing dishes, but rather due to a damaged dish rotator.
“The thing broke and we’re waiting on the parts,” Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said. “They’ve got it working, but they’re afraid to go with full plates because of their weight.”
According to Kohlman, parts to fix the rotator will arrive within a few days, at which point the servery can return to using reusable dishes.
The rotator, which has already been rebuilt twice, is compromised partially because of the sheer amount of dishes it takes in at once. Large groups of students often come to Peirce around the same time — after morning classes, for instance — and the conveyor is not designed to handle very much instantaneous weight.
“I think lunch is probably the worst,” Kohlman said. “Somehow today we served 2,070 people for lunch. When you have 600 people come between 12:00 and 12:15, they all pretty much leave at 1 p.m. So that thing was designed to handle a certain volume of people that are coming in on a regular basis, [but] not all at once.”
Kohlman says that this second breakage has inspired a new round of discussions about overhauling the dish-clearing infrastructure all together. However, the dish conveyor is custom-built and designed for its particular space, which brings up several obstacles in replacing it. Namely, it would involve bringing in a specialized kitchen designer who could examine the infrastructure to determine how best to manage the space and dish intake.
“AVI doesn’t want to use paper plates; we don’t want them using paper plates,” Kohlman said. “It costs more, [and] it’s all a lot of waste.”
The one consolation: Rather than being shipped to a landfill, the temporary paper dishes are getting pulped to go into Kenyon’s mulch supply.