On Nov. 7, in the wake of a “critical shortage” of dishware in Peirce Dining Hall, the Office of Residential Life sent an email to all Kenyon students imploring them to return any cutlery or dishes in their possession. The shortage has mounted in severity over the past several weeks and has caused a variety of noticeable deficiencies within the servery: Silverware containers are regularly depleted during mealtime rushes, paper cups are often the only available receptacles for soup and cereal and AVI staff must hurry to return the few remaining bowls and plates to the servery as soon as the dishes dry. Beyond the current inconveniences, AVI staff also fear that dishware shortages will impact Kenyon’s rapidly approaching annual Peircegiving feast.
In response to a supply-chain issue which reduced the availability of compostable takeout boxes, many students began using the reusable plastic dishware and metal cutlery from the dining hall to take their meals to go, Resident Director of AVI Ryan Summers explained in an interview with the Collegian. Unfortunately, widespread failure to return the items has left Peirce with a diminished supply of cups, bowls, cutlery and plates. While missing dishware is a nuisance that plagues many dining halls, Peirce Dining Hall has experienced drastic and rapid reductions in stock — after starting the semester with 1500 plates, the supply has now dwindled down to fewer than 600, according to Summers.
Although Summers noted that takeout boxes are slated to return in the next several weeks, the surge of missing dishware has already had a large monetary impact. To combat the lack of available plates and cups during mealtimes, AVI recently placed a $10,000 order to replenish the school’s stores of dishes and cutlery. Summers explained that replacing lost supplies can quickly drain financial resources. “The plates we use cost 10 dollars apiece, and the cups are two dollars apiece. That’s a lot of money that goes toward the small stuff we could be using towards other things, like a program that could be servicing students,” he said.
Because AVI is still waiting for the new dishes to come in, Summers worries that there will not be enough reusable dishware to use during Peircegiving, an annual Thanksgiving dinner celebration which he claims draws 2,000 or more participants throughout the night. “I don’t even have enough plates for that, so we’re trying to figure out alternatives,” he said in regard to the upcoming event. To facilitate a return to normal dining (and improve the odds of a customary Peircegiving), Residential Life and AVI staff alike encourage students to simply return the missing dishes, which Director of Residential Life Leah Reuber noted tend to accumulate in residential spaces. “We understand that these have walked away from Peirce dining,” Reuber said. “If you could just remember to take them back, that would be really helpful.”