The Dish on Locke’s Dishwashing Woes

by STEPHEN ZUBRYCKY, Senior Writer

Reusable dishes and utensils returned to Locke’s Loft last week after weeks of disposable plastic.

The switch occurred due to an equipment malfunction with the Locke’s dishwashing system.

“The College uses a commercial equipment service company to maintain and service the College’s equipment,” Nicholas Valinotti of Gourmet Dining wrote in an e-mail. Valinotti is Gourmet Dining’s resident district manager for Manhattan College.  “The conveyor had stopped working and required parts to be ordered as they were not readily available. We expect the repairs to be completed soon.”

Even though the dining hall made the switch back to normal utensils and dishes this past week, the problem is still not completely fixed, as the college waits on new parts for the conveyor belt.

“We are still waiting on parts, I’ve been told by [this] week we should be all set,” Valinotti wrote of the conveyor belt. “The dish [washing] machine is fully operable and in service.”

Valinotti argues that for dishwashing systems used as heavily as the system in Locke’s, occasional disruptions are par for the course.

“The dish machine operates twenty hours a day, seven days a week, over three hundred plus days a year,” Valinotti wrote. “Although any service interruption is not planned nor wanted, the volume of use contributes to the occasional break downs.”

The service disruption drew some pushback from students.

“It was really disheartening to come back to campus this semester and see that we were still using plastic, because it was something that I assumed that would be fixed over the break,” junior English major Gabrielle Kasper said. “I was worried last semester about the plastic use, but then when I came back and saw that it wasn’t fixed, it… made it a lot more stressful of a situation.”

“The school has a responsibility… especially as a Lasallian community… we have a responsibility to the environment and the fellow community to make sure that we’re not creating this amount of plastic that’s so destructive,” junior English, government and philosophy major Alyssa Zduniak said.

Kasper and Zduniak took it upon themselves to voice their concerns to Valinotti directly in an e-mail.

“Our concerns lie in the negative impact the use of plastic has on the environment and the school’s inability to dispose of this plastic waste in an environmentally conscious manner,” Kasper and Zduniak wrote to Valinotti. “If a new dishwasher is not an achievable option, then we request a recycling option that is more environmentally responsible.”

Valinotti did not have an estimate as to the total usage of plastic utensils caused by the outage, but did add that Locke’s Loft typically sees around 2,200 swipes a day.

“You can imagine how quick that adds up,” Valinotti wrote.

In the event of another outage causing a switch to disposable plastic, Valinotti urges students to be prudent and conservative with their dishes and flatware.

“Ideally, [students] can reuse the plastic plates and utensils during each meal time versus taking new items should they desire a second portion. Otherwise, we ask patrons to be patient as the use of plastic ware is costly and is not something we prefer to use,” Valinotti wrote.