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Minnesota Staff Shortage Prompts Meal Plan Refunds

September 29, 2022

The University of Minnesota will offer partial refunds for dining plans following student complaints about limited food options that administrators say happened as the result of a staffing shortage.

Students complained about limited options, particularly a dearth of healthy choices, at the start of the semester. Now those who live in the residence halls will receive a refund “equivalent to 50 percent of their monthly dining charge for September,” the university said in a statement, noting that it would monitor the situation to determine if additional credits are needed.

The local NBC affiliate, KARE 11, reported that the university is down 142 workers in dining services. As a result, students were fed items such as pizza and Lunchables, leading to complaints. Meal plans cost between $2,420 and $2,620 per semester, according to the university’s website.

Higher education, like the private sector, has struggled to attract and retain employees since the onset of the pandemic, as workers have gravitated to more flexible jobs emphasizing remote work. Hiring challenges have prompted some universities to close dining facilities or ask professors and other employees to step in to fill the void to meet student needs amid staffing shortages.

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