Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series exploring the potential impact of budget cuts on the services and resources available to students, faculty and staff at Lane Community College. Check out Edition 7 for a report on potential outsourcing at the Titan Store.

The signs posted on the first floor of the Center Building state that the school has once again shortened food service hours, much to the dismay of students, staff and food service workers especially.

There is no longer anything available – other than the Titan Store – after 3 p.m.. There, students can get only a handful of items to eat that aren’t prepackaged.

While this may itself seem alarming enough, it’s not. Currently, there is a sustained effort by the administration to shut down Food Services, the Titan Store and the Bookstore entirely.

For those that don’t know the history and those that weren’t on campus when the food court was introduced, a Torch article from Oct. 9, 2014 highlighted that “the college is transforming the high school style cafeteria into something more upmarket.” Nearly a year later, in June 2015, The Torch published an updated article, this time naming the restaurants that would occupy the food court: Lime Fresh, B&D’s Country Kitchen, Raw Berry, Five Spice, Stonefire Pizza, Crush Burger (now Campus Burger), and the upstairs coffee shop, Blenders. Now, only three remain with the more recent addition of New Leaf.

According to LCC Food Services Manager David Ferris, the reasoning for these cuts, and possible closure, is money.

“LCC Food Services has been operating in the red for the past five years,” Ferris said. The figures are consistent and the department has been losing an average of roughly $447,000 annually over the last five years. For 2018 alone, the department took in $731,409, but, after covering its operating expenses, had a loss of $496,796.

Current Food Service projections for 2019 include an estimated sales revenue of $550,000 and an overall loss of $525,000 after operating costs. However, while there is no doubt that they will once again be in the red, the current Food Service team refutes these figures as overinflated.

This is not the first time that major cuts have taken place in an effort to be “less of a financial burden upon the general fund,” as Ferris put it. The first major cuts to the Food Service department occured in 2016. Then manager of Stonefire, Josh Hardison, said that “we’re trying to run a profitable business here so if we are not seeing sales at the later hours, they’re just going to cut us off at those later hours.”

Many argue that Food Service is exactly that: a service.

“LCC Food Services has been operating in the red for the past five years.”

David Ferris, LCC Food Services Manager

David Ferris said “It’s not their job to be profitable. It’s their job to feed students and faculty is the response often given when those are asked about how their feelings about what’s going on.” The team behind Food Service is in agreement with this. Ferris said “it’s in the name” and “it’s even in the mission statement – ‘we provide comprehensive, accessible, quality, learning-centered educational opportunities that promote student success’ – ‘accessible’.”

Tim Hannigan takes the helm of Lime Fresh, a popular place to get food on campus. Lime Fresh is one of the last remaining food options for students at Lane Community College. (Evan Curby // The Torch)

Speaking to the board members present during the January 2019 Board meeting–President Margaret Hamilton, Lisa Fragala, Susie Johnston, Matt Keating, Melanie Muenzer, Rosie Pryor, and the school’s legal counsel–many expressed their opposition to, and concern with, the threats of department cuts.

“…if not for food services, I would not have had a job for the first two years of my time [at LCC].”

LCC student and former ASLCC Vice President Dan Good

Bruce Barber, a cook often seen at Campus Burger, stood in solidarity with his coworkers in the Food Service department and their asking of one more year to organize, make its own changes, and, hopefully, show more improvement from before.

The board currently has until June 30 to decide what will happen.

Former ASLCC Vice President, Dan Good, got up and expressed that “if not for food service, I would not have had a job for the first two years of my time here [at LCC].” He continued by adding that the proposed cuts “isn’t going to do anything to actually help enrollment” and that LCC “will lose happy students.”

The school has lost students. Enrollment for this Winter 2019 term is around 7,000 students and is down from this time last year, according to a KMTR report. One of those former students, Victoria Richards, said that “it’s unreasonable that they’re cutting a program we already pay for” and that “cutting the programs affects the culinary students too.” Another former student, Connor Miller, said that “having a food court with good options was sometimes the only way to eat” and asked if “certain fees drop if the food court is removed?”

Anybody concerned about the state of Food Services and those who would like to comment are asked to attend the next board meeting at 6:30 pm on Thursday, Feb. 14 in the boardroom inside Building 3.