University of Maryland Dining Services is experiencing some short-term food shortages, including an anticipated shortage of the usual cookies, due to nationwide shipping issues.
Throughout the fall 2021 semester thus far, Dining Services has seen shortages in soup and chicken tenders due to “supply chain hiccups” and shipping issues, said Bart Hipple, Dining Services spokesperson.
“We’re not seeing [shortages in] anything in particular,” Hipple said. “Things that have to ship from farther away are more likely to become short because there’s also shipping problems.”
Food shortages in the dining halls are more common now than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hipple said. These shortages result in Dining Services’ procurement team picking up the slack when orders ship late.
The procurement team typically organizes orders from the dining halls, concessions stands, cafes and shops on the campus. The team ensures all the necessary orders for different foods and products are placed with the proper vendors to come in on time, Hipple said. Now, the procurement team has the added responsibility of figuring out what to do when a vendor says a certain order will not be in on time.
Thomas Corsi, the academic director of the supply chain master’s program at this university, said the shortages the Dining Services have experienced are linked to labor shortages in factories, farms and trucking, which existed before the pandemic but were also exacerbated by it.
“The explanation [for food shortages in the dining halls] is labor shortages and any kind of productivity impact from COVID restrictions,” Corsi said.
Shannon Kleinmann, a sophomore elementary education major, said she and her friends have noticed a cookie shortage over the past few days. Kleinmann said when she got a chocolate chip cookie on Monday, she could tell it was a substitute for the usual recipe.
“It tasted like a scone,” Kleinmann said.
Alex Nguyen said he has noticed that “the most popular foods are not always [in the dining halls].” The freshman enrolled in letters and sciences said he has had a hard time getting chicken recently, but usually substitutes a hot dog or a vegetable medley instead.
Students who eat from the plant-based sections at the dining halls may also be affected, like junior government and politics and environmental science major Ashley Xu, who said she has also noticed fewer protein options available.
Xu said that while she feels the plant-based section of the dining hall typically has a wide variety of options, it’s important that Dining Services ensures that all of the areas on the food pyramid are compensated for.
In addition to recent protein shortages, Xu said while she doesn’t go to the dining hall often, she has been surprised that she has not been able to get a chocolate chip cookie once this whole semester.
Others, like junior kinesiology major Jordan Gabriel, said he has noticed the chicken and the M&M cookies have been running out more quickly at the South Campus Dining Hall recently. Usually, if he waits, the dining hall workers will bring out more chicken, but Gabriel said he misses the M&M cookies.
“They have a few cookies, like they got the snickerdoodles and the chocolate chip, but I haven’t been seeing the M&Ms,” Gabriel said. “Those are the real favorites — the Terp favorites.”