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Dining services addressing dish disposal issues

Campus Correspondent

Published: Monday, February 10, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 23:02

UConn’s dining halls have been experiencing problems with conveyor belts all across campus, preventing students from placing their trays on the moving belts.

With no place to stash dirty dining ware, students have complained about the dishes piling up in the eating area.

Buckley and Putnam have struggled with the issue recently. Dennis Pierce, Director of Dining Services, acknowledges the issue and says his program is currently in the process of addressing it.

“We’ve had challenges with what they call the return dish belt,” said Pierce, who took the opportunity to have lunch at Buckley and observe the damage.

According to Pierce, the belt motors have died due to their old age.

“I’m going to say that belt has been in there for probably about 20 years (...) and there was no way to rebuild the motor,” Pierce said.

In the meantime, a curtain has been set up at Buckley to separate the view of the kitchen from the outside. Michael White, Assistant Director of Dining Services, refers to this tactic as “pipe and drape.”

“We’ve considered a different method for the window until we get that whole thing straightened out and repaired,” White said.

Putnam is facing a similar situation with the conveyor belt issue, but instead of a curtain, the staff has set up a wall made of two-by-fours and sheetrock, according to White.

However, the repairs in Putnam are being postponed for a later date, as the dining hall is expected to go through a major renovation in the months to come.

There is no set timeframe yet for when the renovations will be complete. According to Pierce, they are still in the “designing stages.”

In addition to the problems faced in Buckley and Putnam, belts in other dining areas, such as Northwest and Towers, have seen malfunctions. Erik Bell, a freshman chemistry major, eats in Towers dining hall on a regular basis.

“Last semester it broke a few times,” Bell said. “It’s more of a hindrance, not more of an issue.”

Pierce insisted that the staff is taking “necessary actions” to get the problem fixed.

“This doesn’t happen frequently,” said Pierce. “It’s just right now it seems like it’s all happening at once.”

Pierce said costs for repairs would remain unknown until quotes from a vendor have been received.  

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