Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Bon Appetit feels budget cutbacks

When The Pioneer first reported on possible implications of the financial crisis on college spending, Whitman Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Peter Harvey was hesitant to speculate too far into the future.

“We need to be patient and learn more about how significant this downturn is and how long it might last,” Harvey was quoted as saying in the Oct. 2 issue of The Pioneer.     “In the meantime, Whitman is in a strong position to face the challenges as we know them today.”

However, over the past four weeks the economy has shown no substantive signs of improvement, and its strain on Whitman’s finances has recently become clear in the cutting of funds for the college’s catering service, Bon Appétit.

“Peter called me about a week or ten days ago and let me know that the college was doing some cutting that would most likely affect Bon Appétit,” said Roger Edens, general manager of Bon Appétit food services at Whitman.

“I can’t offer much detail yet,” said Harvey in an e-mail.   “I have advised Bon Appétit that Whitman will be trying to reduce expenses this year in the face of current economic conditions.”

One of the services that will most likely be cut back is Bon Appétit catering for department meetings, receptions and other faculty and community events.

“We will likely reduce the amount of food we provide to various meetings on campus.   That will reduce revenue to Bon Appétit,” Harvey said.   “I don’t know what the reduction will be as we are just beginning to assess it.”
Edens stated that “overall, there is going to be a tightening” of the Bon Appétit budget, but said an exact figure of how much will be cut out has yet to be reached.

“I did throw out some numbers,” Edens said.   “But they were definitely pretty speculative.”   Adding, “All of these numbers are totally up in the air, and nothing is confirmed.”

Bon Appétit is an on-site catering company that contracts with the college to provide dining services to students and the Whitman community.   It also provides café and catering services to other colleges, corporations and venues nationwide.   Whitman does not dictate the annual budget for Bon Appétit, but because the potential cuts Harvey outlined would decrease profits for the company, Bon Appétit is considering ways to maintain the fiscal balance.

“We’re looking at a small decrease [in labor],” Edens said.   “I’m talking about five percent.”

Edens also described a process of “self-auditing” that he said will be taking place within the organization with the assistance of the company’s corporate office.   This internal evaluation would, according to Edens, help determine standards of service and maintain food quality.

“The dining hall service and quality of food should remain the same,” said Edens.

When asked if budget constraints would impact the overall dining hall experience, Edens replied, “I don’t think it’s going to be visible.”

Edens further specified that the anticipated five percent decrease in labor expenses would not affect student employees, whose wages are paid by the college, but would result in decreased hours for local workers.   According to
Edens, no layoffs are presently being considered.

In response to questions regarding whether or not the rumored anxiety of some Bon Appétit chefs is valid, Edens said, “If I were [in that position], I would be concerned.   There’s always that fear of the unknown and what’s going to happen.”

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