Snatched silverware incites pardon plan

With the amount of silverware lost from The Main, most students living on campus should have at least four place settings in their dorm rooms, said a manager of Sodexho.Through March 31, residents in Waits, Sherley, Colby and Moncrief Halls can return stolen flatware to boxes in the lobby as part of the Dining Services Committee’s Flatware Amnesty program.

Rick Flores, general manager of Sodexho at TCU, said he does not expect the program to be highly effective but said he hopes it will make students aware of the amount of flatware that is lost because this and other product losses are factored into the total price of food.

“It’s a cost of doing business that doesn’t have to be passed down to students,” Flores said.

In August, Sodexho ordered 2,900 dozen sets of flatware. The company has since purchased an additional 700 dozen sets and is ordering another 500 dozen pieces of flatware this week. The total cost of flatware for the school year will be $5,560 – about $1,660 more than it would have been if silverware had not been lost.

Alissa Garner, chairwoman of the Student Government Association’s Dining Services Committee, said the program was started because the committee realized how much money these losses were costing Sodexho. She said committee members noticed several students walking away with bowls, plates and silverware from The Main and wanted a way to recover some of the stolen items.

She said the committee would like to see permanent cups implemented in The Main but said, “It’s hard to do when stuff is getting lost.”

Sodexho offers meals on plates with permanent flatware because students wanted to move away from disposable containers, Flores said.

It would be more cost-effective to offer only plastic silverware, but this option would not be environmentally responsible, he said.

Flores said the majority of students take the time to put away their dishes, and some silverware is lost in trash cans, though there is a magnet in the back trash can to catch any flatware thrown away.

Most universities have meal plans where you have to eat within the dining services space, Flores said. TCU’s retail meal plan makes it more susceptible to losses because students have the option to take food with them at any time, he said.

Flores said it is not Sodexho’s job to act as “the silverware police.” Instead, he said, students need to be responsible for “taking care of what they have.”

Legia Abato, marketing director for Sodexho, said an administrator once caught a student who had taken a napkin dispenser.

In that instance, she said, the student was charged for the item taken, but said she usually asks students if she can get them a to-go container when they are walking out of The Main with a plate.

“There are nice ways to go about it,” Abato said.

Boxes that were placed in Waits, Colby and Moncrief Halls about a week ago were still empty Sunday. In Sherley Hall, the collection box was not in the lobby, and Carrie Sickmann, a resident assistant in the hall, said she was not aware that the amnesty program was taking place.

Garner said she is skeptical that students will return flatware midsemester because they may still be using it in their rooms. She said the Dining Services Committee plans to implement the program again at the end of the semester, which will hopefully yield better results.