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Supply chain disruptions impact Westminster community

A man in profile holds a stack of textbooks with empty bookshelves looming behind him.
Justin Woodbury, interim manager at the Westminster Bookstore, restocks various items Nov. 29. “If not all, almost all things have gone up in price. At least 30, 40, 50 cents if not a dollar,” Woodbury said. “There’s a few items that we just haven’t gotten and who knows when we will?”Photo courtesy of Anthony Giorgio. Image description: A man in profile holds a stack of textbooks with empty bookshelves looming behind him.

“At [Shaw Student Center], we’ve seen disruptions with meat and produce due to production shortages or transportation issues,” said Tony DiRaddo, the general manager of Café Bon Appétit in the Shaw Center Dining Hall, in an email. “Supply chain disruptions are occurring across the nation in nearly every industry.” 

The 2021 global supply chain crisis has made items like paper, electronics and art supplies scarce. Shipping schedules were cut because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on manufacturing companies, according to “How the Supply Chain Broke, and Why It Won’t Be Fixed Anytime Soon” from The New York Times.

There are shortages in almost everything produced and manufactured, according to The New York Times article.

  • Computer chips
  • Running shoes
  • Cars
  • Chemicals

The high demand for materials has made prices surge, turning items like 13 cents per can into 30 cents per can, a 125% increase, according to “Utah small businesses suffer as global supply chain breaks down” from The Salt Lake Tribune. In addition to the price surge, international ports are backed up and suppliers are experiencing a worker shortage, according to the Salt Lake Tribune article.

Tony DiRaddo, the general manager of Café Bon Appétit, said Bon Appétit’s purchasing team is working every day with suppliers to secure the best possible products and make sure they have the variety that he knows the students want. 

“Unfortunately, like many businesses across the nation, our suppliers are short on some products they regularly have,” DiRaddo said in an email. “Even if the products are in stock, a concurrent national labor shortage means that some of our suppliers don’t have warehouse workers or drivers to get these products to us.”

DiRaddo said because of the challenges of suppliers being short on products they usually have, Bon Appétit’s menu items are subject to changes that have not normally been necessary. 

“[…] Missed deliveries can compromise [a] variety [of products],” DiRaddo said in an email. “The combination of these factors has been unprecedented in my experience in hospitality.”

A chef puts on food handlers gloves in the middle of the Shaw Cutting Board kitchen amid steaming plates of food.
Danielle Bradfield, chef at Bon Appétit, prepares a meal in the Shaw Dining Hall, Nov. 29. “A lot of products we get day-to-day have changed dramatically since Covid happened,” Bradfield said. “Whenever we run out of certain products […] you have to come up with something on the fly.” Photo courtesy of Anthony Giorgio. Image description: A chef puts on food handlers gloves in the middle of the Shaw Cutting Board kitchen amid steaming plates of food.

Shaw Center Dining Hall

Popular products, such as Pepsi, have also been disrupted because of delivery interruptions, according to DiRaddo.

“While our purchasing team has been able to help us secure a supply of many of the products we want, the supply chain is shifting daily and changes can be hard to predict,” DiRaddo said. “We are doing our best to be proactive.”

DiRaddo said he and his team at Bon Appétit have purchased products from different vendors that are local or the substitute for a product they could not secure.  

“This has primarily occurred with paper goods, which is why there have been several different types of to-go container and coffee hot cups over the past few months,” DiRaddo said in an email. “Our chefs have also adjusted our menus when certain food items aren’t available.”

DiRaddo said he and his team at Bon Appétit are lucky to have direct relationships with small, local farms and businesses through Farm to Fork.. The Farm to Fork practice utilizes food containing seasonal, minimally processed ingredients from a local farm, ranch or fishing boat, according to Westminster College’s Cafe Bon Appétit webpage.

“We understand that these supply chain disruptions have impacted variety on our menus and the overall dining experience for students,” DiRaddo said in an email. “We’re grateful for the empathy and patience many students have exhibited during this time. We are working as hard as we can to mitigate these issues and offer the best possible quality and service we can to the Westminster community.”

Westminster Bookstore

“The biggest thing I would say that would be affecting [Follett and the Westminster Bookstore], is prices,” said Justin Woodbury, interim manager at the Westminster Bookstore. 

Woodbury said he has covered for the store manager at Westminster Bookstore six times as of Nov. 22. A company called Follett owns and operates the Westminster Bookstore, along with other college campuses’ bookstores in Utah, according to Woodbury. 

“Pens or pencils that go up 50 cents [or] $1 [are examples of the price increase],” Woodbury said. 

Woodbury said there have been shortages of supplies in general.

“[It] kind of just depends on what supplies in particular, but they vary,” Woodbury said. “For instance, our little health and beauty section [has been affected by the supply chain disruptions].”

Woodbury said he noticed shortages of particular pills such as Tylenol in other bookstores, and the price increase may have had an effect with the traffic at the Westminster Bookstore.

“To be honest, the days I am [at the Westminster Bookstore], it’s kind of slower days, so I don’t see much traffic coming in as it is,” Woodbury said. “But, like I said, that’s just with this store.”

A Sysco semi delivery truck prepares for delivery behind Shaw Student Center.
A Sysco delivery truck idles behind Shaw Student Center for delivery Nov. 15. “While our purchasing team has been able to help us secure a supply of many of the products we want, the supply chain is shifting daily and changes can be hard to predict,” said Tony DiRaddo, the general manager of Café Bon Appétit in Shaw Student Center at Shaw Center Dining Hall, in an email. “We are doing our best to be proactive.” Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Covington. Image description: A Sysco semi delivery truck idles behind Shaw Student Center at Westminster College.

Westminster art program

Gwen Grunwald, a junior art major, said her and her figure drawing art class have had the hardest time finding erasers and white charcoal.

“[Matt Kruback] had ordered all the needed supplies well before the semester began,” Grunwald said in an email. “The erasers did not arrive until late-September or early October, and now with the semester being over in just a few short weeks, we are still waiting on those white charcoal pencils.”

Grunwald said her art professor, Matt Kruback, has been a lifesaver.

“Several items [Kruback] ordered have either never arrived or arrived super late,” Grunwald said in an email. “To compensate, [Kruback] has adjusted lesson plans to accommodate the lack of a certain material, loaned us supplies from his own collection, or even went out and bought a whole new set.”

Grunwald said she had to resort to Amazon for some supplies because Blick Art Materials could not get the items in time, or she would just wait it out.

“The supply chain shortages have made purchasing materials rather difficult,” Grunwald said in an email. “I already had some supplies on hand and always try to purchase my materials as early as possible, so thankfully I was able to get most of what I needed before the semester started.”

It is unclear how supply chain shortages and delays will impact the holiday shopping season, according to “Made in the U.S.A., but With a Supply-Chain Reboot” from The New York Times. 

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Brooklyn Covington is a senior at Westminster College studying communication. She has fun in the sun and finds value in embracing her naturally curly hair. Brooklyn has a passion for fashion and loves being a pommy mommy to her pampered dog, Roo.

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