To keep dining halls open, employees spend the night

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

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.


“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.