New hours for Martha’s Kitchen inconvenient, but needed

By Alaina Perdon
Elm Staff Writer

An email sent by Assistant Director of Dining Services Kayla Young on Oct. 27 announced a new operating schedule for Martha’s Kitchen. Because of staffing issues, Martha’s will close on Fridays until more staff are hired.

According to the email, this change comes in response to students’ reactions to a previous schedule where Martha’s closed on Sundays. Despite the fact that their opinions were a factor in the most recent schedule change, the student body holds mixed opinions about the new hours.

“I imagine they looked at statistics to see what day they got the least business, but for the students it seems not great to close Fridays because [Martha’s is] pretty much the primary source of food people have within walking distance after around 7 p.m.,” senior Faith Waaramaa said.

The new change poses an inconvenience to students. In a small town where many businesses close early, finding food at night is often challenging. And, admittedly, we all love our pre-party french fries on a Friday night.

However, the change was made deliberately, with the students’ best interests in mind.

“The data shows Fridays are the least popular days, likely because students either go home or go out, and Sundays are the busiest days,” Young said.

Closing Martha’s was a necessary change, brought on by a dramatic staffing shortage on campus. According to Young, Dining Services staff was practically halved since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. To compensate for lost labor, remaining workers have taken on additional or longer shifts, which leads to burnout.

“In the beginning of the semester, we had staff members working six or seven days a week and they were getting burnt out,” Young said. “By closing even just one day a week, we can give everyone a little time off while still keeping all the staff we need on a shift.”

Martha’s is not the only dining venue affected by staff shortages. Create was forced to remain closed this semester, though Young hopes they will be able to re-open in the spring.

“Although we love Create and students love Create, we knew we couldn’t take Martha’s away at night and everyone needs to have their coffee in the morning, so that had to be the one to go,” Young said.

It is unfortunate that our already scant dining options on campus are now even more limited, and frustration is understandable. However, Dining Services is working to deliver the best program possible given the restrictions that have been placed on them, so they deserve our patience.

“[Director of Dining Services Prince Johnson] and I take what’s happening very seriously. We know you students and your parents pay a lot of money for dining programs and we are doing everything we can to make sure we can provide for you as best we can,” Young said.

While the directors of Dining Services work to fill vacant positions and reorganize operations to keep students fed, we must treat them with compassion and respect and understand that there is little that can be done.

“I would hope people realize it’s not anyone’s fault and are just nice to the Martha’s workers,” Waaramaa said.

Emerging from the pandemic, many businesses cannot function as they once did, and our dining programs are no exception. Disappointing as it may be to not have our easily-accessible fast food on Friday nights, we must accept that this is part of the “new normal” at Washington College.

Photo by Grace Hazelhurst
Featured Photo Caption: Martha’s is perfect for students looking for something quick and tasty to eat later at night.

One thought on “New hours for Martha’s Kitchen inconvenient, but needed

  1. How wonderful it is to have so many, and such excellent dining opportunities at WAC. Reading this column, however, brought back the realities of the mid-60s, and you men and women have it SO good. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but a little perspective is in order…
    WE (the Class 1968) had just about ONE dining option (and I washed dishes there), and if you missed the open hours you had little choice where else to eat. There was no Dunkin down town and the “shopping center” was much abbreviated. The cuisine was what was served, and that was it. No in-room refrigerators, no microwaves, no hot plates, no in-dorm deliveries, NADA.
    Yes, I know it inconveniences you, but we survived – we really did, and I’ll attest to that — and we were happy and rarely undernourished. Enjoy what you have and be very grateful for it. You are extremely fortunate and privileged.

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