The ice cream machines in the Union Drive Marketplace (UDM) have not been operational yet in the 2021-22 school year. They will likely remain unavailable for the remainder of the fall semester, but the UDM dining staff hope to have the machines ready by spring.
“The ice cream machines are still a priority, but we decided at this point to kind of maybe try to just get through the semester,” said Jeremy Bowker, interim manager of food services in the campus dining services department. “We have all our fingers crossed that spring will be better staffing wise and production wise.”
UDM staff had originally planned to have the ice cream machines available for fall semester, but there were several obstacles that stood in their way.
In early August they had to order new O-rings for the machines, which did not arrive until late October.
“We get them directly through Spaceman, which is the company that builds [the ice cream machines],” Bowker said. “It was just an issue with service, product availability and just the time it took to get here.”
However, even with the O-rings, UDM staff are currently unable to keep up with maintenance of the machines.
“Just to clean one machine takes four hours,” Bowker said. “The reason it takes a total of four hours is basically we have to turn it off, drain it off, rinse it all out and pull it all apart. We have to wash everything, let it dry a little bit and lube all of these openings, and then we have to put it all back together.”
Health code requires UDM staff to clean the machines everyday, but similar to most industries and establishments, they are currently low on workers.
“We normally hire, you know, let’s say 24 supervisors that we have on staff,” Bowker said. “But we only have a fraction of that this year, so unfortunately it just comes down to ‘what do we really want to open right now.’”
UDM staff also need to have a service company look over the machines because they have not been used since spring 2020 due to COVID-19.
“Since we haven’t had them working in so long, we need to get a service company out here to make sure that everything really is top-notch,” Bowker said. “The last thing we wanna do is get them all fired up, just to shut them down again.”
Bowker plans to have a service company visit between the Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks. He also confirmed that UDM has already hired several students for the spring semester.
Although nothing can be guaranteed, ice cream lovers can look forward to the strong possibility of ice cream at UDM this spring, with the accompaniment of various toppings, such as hot fudge, caramel and sprinkles.