The dispenser dispute: Dining halls remove napkin dispensers


The change is aimed to reduce workload in light of staff shortages.

Gone are the days of napkin-dispenser advertisements, as napkin holders disappeared from individual tables across dining halls in mid-October and were replaced with larger dispensers in central locations. The move followed a series of conversations with dining staff and the dining services management team about streamlining daily tasks in light of staff shortages.

The task of refilling individual napkin holders is time-consuming, so switching to larger dispensers in fewer places helped reduce the workload for staff.

“We are extremely short staffed these days as it has been very difficult to find part time employees,” said Daniel Detora, executive director of food service operations. “Moving to these dispensers has really helped staff complete their day to day tasks, as they take much less time to fill.”

A secondary reason was environmental. Dining management said taking away individual dispensers was intended to reduce napkin waste. Not all believe that this goal has been met, however.

“If anything it has increased my waste because I feel like some meals I could go without a napkin…but now I take them before I even sit down,” Louisa Skerry ’23 said. “I feel like I’m overcompensating.”

Detora said the change has been successful in lightening the workload for staff. 

“The servery workers love [the change], as it has saved them considerable time,” Detora said.