As most upperclassmen know, Bowdoin offered “express breakfast” at Moulton during finals in the spring of 2019. Students could swipe in at the Moulton Express counter and grab a breakfast sandwich, a cup of coffee and some yogurt to go. What fewer students know is that Bowdoin still offers express breakfast—but only to students in two 3000 level classes in the education department.
The two classes, which are corequisites, send students to teach in and observe Portland middle schools every Friday. Nate Blum ’20, who takes both classes, gave me the scoop.
“We need to make it to Portland by about 7:30 a.m., and it’s a half hour drive. We leave before the dining halls open,” Blum said. Because of this, Bowdoin gives Nate and his peers a bag of yogurt, granola, coffee and milk. “It’s incredible of them, and almost everyone in the class uses it,” he said.
When asked if he had any suggestions to improve the breakfast, he reemphasized his gratitude and satisfaction, but added that he had heard minor complaints: there was nothing hot.
When I first found out about this limited offering of express breakfast, I began to wonder why Bowdoin didn’t expand it. I personally prefer to take my time at breakfast, but I imagine many students would appreciate the option to grab a bag of food at 8:25 a.m. on their way to an 8:30 a.m. class. In order to find out whether Bowdoin had any plans to expand express breakfast, I spoke with Ken Cardone, the interim director of Bowdoin Dining Services.
First, here’s the good news; express breakfast will be back for finals this fall. Cardone said that he received positive feedback on express breakfast last year, contributing to the decision to offer it again.
Now, the bad news: Bowdoin dining does not currently have plans to offer express breakfast full-time. The problem, Cardone explained, is a staffing shortage.
One upside of the staffing shortage is that Bowdoin dining has positions open for all shifts. If you are looking for a lucrative campus job ($12.50/hour), you can find a dining shift online at Bowdoin’s student employment website.
“We need to meet our current obligations for SuperSnack and weekend meals before we can consider additional services,” he said. He believes one of the reasons for the current staffing shortage is that students are more engaged in extracurricular activities than in previous years, which, in itself, is not a bad thing.
The staffing shortage, however, is a major obstacle. Bowdoin dining was forced to cancel one SuperSnack in September because of it, though they made up for the cancelled SuperSnack by offering free food trucks on Dudley Coe Quad. Furthermore, the shortage prevents Bowdoin dining from expanding its services.
It also seems hard to solve. The main problem, as I see it, is that dining hall jobs are more like real jobs than many of Bowdoin’s other employment opportunities, which sometimes involve little more than sitting at a desk and doing homework. As long as these “jobs” are available, students will tend to prefer them to the actual work involved in staffing the dining halls.
But perhaps there is a way for Bowdoin to provide express breakfast without hiring more staff. Diego Lasarte ’22 suggested the following idea when I mentioned this article to him.
Imagine this: from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. you could get a bagel or other food item and a cup of coffee to go at The Café using a meal swipe. A potential downside of this idea is that The Café could become overcrowded. There could also be difficulty in keeping The Café stocked with enough food to feed the masses. However, I think the idea is worth pursuing.
Bowdoin dining should offer express breakfast at The Café on an “as supplies last” basis, for a trial period of one week. Mr. Cardone, I hope you’re reading this.
Editor’s Note: Diego Lasarte ’22 is a member of Orient staff.