Breaking News
More () »

U of M: Lunchables weren't meant to be a meal replacement for students

While the school confirmed that dining services are experiencing staffing shortage issues, students weren’t offered the snacks as replacement for dining hall meals.

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota says a staffing shortage is impacting dining operations and forcing locations around campus to cut back on hours.

In a statement released on Sept. 21, Dawn Aubrey, vice president of operations for M Food Co., apologized for the ongoing concerns around student dining. 

"This does not reflect the level of service and care that the campus deserves and expects, and my team and I are committed to establishing a dining program that the campus community can be proud of," Aubrey said.

Currently, the hours in residential dining facility hours have been modified due to staffing issues. To alleviate the worker shortage, the U is actively hiring student workers at a rate of $15.75 per hour. 

The school confirmed Monday that dining operations are down 142 employees, and some retail locations outside of residence dining halls have had to temporarily close "to ensure greater service levels for the greatest number of hours in our residential locations." Click here for updated dining hours.

With unlimited meal plans costing up to $2,620 per semester, many students and their parents say they're not getting what they paid for this semester.

"They're supposed to go until like midnight but they've only gone until like 8 o'clock sometimes or 8:30," freshman Ryan Piotraschk said.

"Yeah, they promised originally that it would be open 24/7 but it's been closing at 8 p.m., which kind of sucks for all of us," fellow freshman  Deven Visavadia added.

The U says it's taking several steps to resolve issues, including purchasing pre-cut fruits and vegetables and pre-made sauces, soups, and salads so that culinary staff can focus on cooking other food. Students are also encouraged to use previously provided containers to take additional food to-go.

Addressing claims on social media that the University of Minnesota offered Lunchables as an alternative to other food options, Jake Ricker with the U of M told KARE 11 that Lunchables are available at a number of dining locations around campus, but "are not a meal or meal replacement in residential dining."

According to Ricker, at one point a "well-meaning employee" put out a bunch of Lunchables that were nearing their expiration date for students to take for free, instead of letting them expire. However, they weren't labeled as such, and by the time a manager arrived to address the situation, all the Lunchables had been claimed, Ricker said.

Watch more local news:

Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out