Tufts Dining Services employee, Kat Barry, cleans the salad bar in Carmichael Dining Hall on January 27th, 2015. Kat is considered "Essential" staff and walked to work for her 5:30 a.m. shift despite hazardous blizzard conditions. Nicholas Pfosi / The Tufts Daily

To keep dining halls open, employees spend the night

During the recent blizzard that prompted the university to cancel classes and close buildings for two days, Tufts students discovered that both dining halls would stay open despite the closures of other university buildings. According to Director of Dining and Business Services, Patti Klos, many Dining Services employees stayed overnight to ensure that Carmichael Dining Center and Dewick-MacPhie Dining Center were able to continue to serve students during storms.

Klos explained that dining employees are designated “Essential” to the Tufts community and are required to work during weather-related emergencies. Although they are not required to stay overnight, many employees choose to do so, and employees are encouraged to plan ahead for possible winter storms. Workers are provided with air mattresses and “Comfort Kits” containing toiletries such as shampoo, soap and toothpaste.

According to Chef Manager Joann Pulsford, about 10 employees stayed at Dewick-MacPhie and six at Carmichael. Employees sleep in the dining hall conference rooms on cots and air mattresses and are able to use dining hall locker rooms to shower, she explained.

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“It is their decision. We don’t force anybody to stay if they don’t want to … If they decide to stay, we have a certain amount of emergency supplies,” Pulsford said.

This protocol is not new, Pulsford said. However, she said that past storms have helped the dining halls improve their preparedness for future inclement weather.

Tufts students are grateful for the hard work of the dining hall staff, and according to Pulsford, this gratitude does not go unnoticed.

“We’ve been really touched by everybody being so grateful for the staff staying … The students put up a big thank you [poster] last night, and it really makes all the difference. It means so much to [dining hall staff members],” Pulsford said.

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6 Responses

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  1. Blaine
    Jan 28, 2015 - 06:36 PM

    Are dining hall workers compensated for their time spent overnight? Are they paid overtime? Thanks.

    • blaines buddy
      Jan 28, 2015 - 11:15 PM

      I think theyre paid overtime for working during the snow days, not sure for staying overnight. Also apparently this has been the first twoday snow break in ~12 yrs

  2. Concerned student
    Jan 28, 2015 - 08:47 PM

    How are they not required to stay over night but required to be here? If there’s a travel ban there’s no way to get here besides staying

    Also are they compensated for the time they have to spend here away from their families?

    • Kat Barry
      Jan 30, 2015 - 10:35 AM

      Workers are not compensated for time spent overnight. It is the only way that they can be at work the next day if no public transportation is available or if driving in the snow is too scary. The time we do spend working our shift is paid overtime if there is a school closure (last time, during the lock down for the marathon bombing and before that the Blizzard of 2013). Due to the fact that we are “essential” personnel, we can legally travel the roads, but more staff rely on the T rather than drive. Or, like me, if we live within walking distance, we walk to work, uphill, in a blizzard, at the crack of dawn. Thankfully I wasn’t barefoot. Bottom line, the Tufts students need to eat. You are virtual hostages to the elements and it is our duty to feed you. We do it with pleasure and pride. Many students offered us thanks and gratitude for being there for them. We appreciate the fact that people notice what we do. I enjoy my job, the people I work with and the students I serve each day. I like to think of everyone as my “Carm Family”. Have a happy day!

      • not as concerned student
        Jan 30, 2015 - 11:35 AM

        Ms. Barry,
        Thanks for your insight and role in helping keep us fed! My mom is a nurse and often stays overnight at her hospital when the weather is very inclement. She’s not compensated for her sleeping time but does get overtime for time worked as well. Glad to hear you’re up to the challenge and help take care of the students on campus – we appreciate it!

      • Monique o'connell
        Jan 30, 2015 - 05:07 PM

        Tufts is lucky to have such a devoted staff! We miss you Kat!

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