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May 2000

Delphi Questions: Speeding at FL, cafeteria hygiene, lunch crowds

From the Delphi archives

Delphi coordinator Janet Evans found this previous Delphi question, submitted in October 1979, very similar to Question 447 below, except that the cafeteria options available to staff have increased. In an upcoming issue of Staff Notes Monthly, Janet will provide a look at Delphi history.

Question:

The NCAR cafeteria has a lot of guests and visitors at lunch time who take advantage of the reasonable prices. So why can't there be a designated time for them to have lunch? Some of us get 30 minutes to eat, and almost half our time is spent standing in line, especially when the senior citizens group is here.

Answer:

As the writer points out, NCAR has many visitors who eat lunch in the cafeteria. When large groups are to be here for lunch, whether it is the senior citizens or a group attending a scientific meeting, every effort is made to schedule the lunch hour for the group at either 11:30 or 12:30, before or after the noon-hour rush. There seems to be no way to enforce a hard-and- fast eating time for visitors and guests who come for lunch without sacrificing our "good neighbor" atmosphere.

The cafeteria has eased the lunch line problem to a great extent by offering the soup and salad bar and other easy-to-get choices for a quick lunch, and we will continue to make every effort to schedule groups for lunch at either 11:30 or 12:30 so that the noon-hour lines will be kept as short as possible.

--Rose Bridgewater, Office Services manager

Question #445 (received 22 March):

It appears that speeding in the Foothills Lab parking lots is getting out of hand. It's only a matter of time until a pedestrian is hit or a collision occurs. The posted limit is ten miles per hour, and absolutely nobody goes that slowly. The most egregious violators appear to be government vehicles and the Ryder rental trucks. Take a look at the curb southwest of FL3--the black marks are from the tires of speeding vehicles that bounce off the curb. Recently, I saw a Ryder truck knock some big branches off an FL tree. Therefore, I ask:

Response (10 April):

First, let me say thanks to the questioner, as she or he has provided valuable information concerning traffic issues. Now that we have the information, we will take appropriate action. In the future, the questioner can speed up the enforcement/abatement process and help improve traffic safety by immediately reporting traffic violations to Security at ext. 1139.

UCAR is responsible for enforcing its rules, policies, and procedures. When we detect traffic violations we immediately take enforcement actions. Our security staff routinely monitor traffic into, out of, and around all of our facilities, both by camera and by personal observation. However, they cannot monitor all facilities at all times. Consequently, they rely on reports such as that provided by the questioner. I can't emphasize how important it is to report these unsafe traffic conditions. Our intent is to maintain a safe environment, and enforcement is one tool that we can and do use.

Regarding liability, that is dependent upon a legal process and interpretation. Rather than wait to find out how much liability we may or may not have, we'd prefer to prevent an accident. We will step up our surveillance and enforcement, which we hope will reduce the violations observed by the questioner. We do not know what happened to the missing speed limit sign, but we will replace any missing signs and review all signs to ensure that they are adequate. Finally, we will investigate this entire issue to determine whether additional steps are needed, e.g., speed bumps.

UCAR reached an agreement with Taylor rental that allows them to park vehicles in unused portions of our lot for a fee. This was done solely for the benefit of the many employees who felt their safety was seriously jeopardized by the way the trucks were parked along Mitchell Lane. Although the trucks were legally parked, many employees considered them a significant safety hazard. More than three dozen complaints were lodged. Our lease agreement simply solved a very serious safety problem for dozens of UCAR employees. We will contact the rental company to assure that they observe all traffic rules and regulations.

--Steve Sadler, Safety and Site Services director

Question #446 (received 28 March):

In the Foothills Lab cafeteria, the service is always good and the employees friendly. However, in the mornings, there is generally only one person working on the line. This is understandable, in order to keep labor costs down.

Nowadays people are educated about food safety, and food workers frequently wear gloves. However, lately I have noticed that the morning cook/server will be wearing a glove on only one hand. After making the food, she goes to the register to ring the sale, without removing the glove. Then she goes back to preparing the food, without washing her hands or changing the glove.

Cash is very dirty. I am sure that ID cards are also dirty--at the very least, they were in the hands of the person paying for the food. If the same person is going to be handling food and cash, surely she should be washing her hands and changing her gloves every time. And both hands should have gloves, not just one. I realize that this would create extra work, but isn't cleanliness in the kitchen worth it?

Thank you for your assistance in answering this question.

Response (14 April):

Sanitation and food safety are our top priorities in operating this food service. Our servers need to conscientiously make sure that hands that touch money do not touch food and that gloves and serving utensils like tongs are used as needed. We have reminded all servers of this important requirement. Thank you.

--Velma Ryan, Food Services and Special Functions manager

Question #447 (received 3 April):

I have a question about serving lunch. Very large groups have meetings at the Mesa Lab, etc., from time to time, and when they go to lunch in the cafeteria, some employees have to readjust their lunch time or stand in line for a while. I was wondering if we could have, say, employees at 11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. and the public from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., or something like that. I know as spring and the 40th anniversary progress, we will be having this situation more and more. Thank you for your consideration.

Response (13 April):

We appreciate your question, as UCAR does indeed have various groups that use our cafeterias in addition to our regular staff. These are often conferences or symposia that support some aspect of UCAR business, or education and tour groups that provide outreach to the public.

We try to address the situation in several different ways. First and foremost, we make every effort to schedule the lunch hour for any group at 12:30 p.m. or later. The Education and Tour Program is really great about following this guideline and usually has one of their staff with the group to help them find things and speed up the process. Despite our urgings, however, this doesn't work for all meetings as the organizers may want to have the break earlier to fit the program, or the meeting may run long or short. There really is no way to force visitors and guests to have lunch at a certain hour.

Second, we try to communicate with the staff, either by e-mail or by signs, if there are likely to be significant extras in the cafeteria on any given day. You have probably all seen some of these communications. When we are aware of a large conference, we will put this footnote on the on-line menus. Our staff gear up for the extras by providing additional servers and another cashier, and by adjusting production or choosing menus so there is limited waiting in line. We also offer groups a way to charge for their entire party, thus speeding up the line.

The best time for staff to come, particularly on these busy days, is 11:30 p.m. to noon, as everything is on the line and ready to go. After 1:00 p.m. also works if that fits your schedule better. High noon or shortly thereafter always seems to be the time of choice for people to eat, despite our best efforts to adjust this. And of course, using your debit card not only gives you a 15% discount but also speeds up the transaction and line at any time.

Third, we can offer lunch alternatives to groups. In the past, this has included everything from special catered lunches served in the Damon Room or on the second floor of ML and in the meeting rooms or in the cafe atrium at FL. We also offer a variety of box lunch selections and outdoor options which some groups have taken advantage of, particularly those using the tree plaza (as well as some functions at NOAA that are catered by NCAR). The cafeteria has also opened early, at 11:15 a.m., to allow some groups to get through before regular staff. We will take this one step further and offer individuals a pick-up or prepaid lunch or even hold one late for you if you have a major conflict. Just contact Debbi Naugle (ext. 1147, naugle@ucar.edu) or myself (ext. 1193, vryan@ucar.edu) and let us know.

Again, thank you for your question--we will continue to try to provide you with the best service possible.

--Velma Ryan, Food Services and Special Functions manager

Questions and suggestions from the staff to management may be submitted in confidence to the coordinator, Janet Evans (ext. 1114, ML room 517). They should be submitted in written form, preferably via interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked confidential; they must be signed. Detailed procedures for submitting questions are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures Manual, section 4-1-2. Questions and answers of general interest to staff are submitted to Staff Notes Monthly by Janet. They may be edited for publication. For more information, including links to questions and answers published in Staff Notes Monthly and a log of all questions submitted since 1995, see the Delphi Service Web page.


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