DMU Catering struggles with rising prices while understaffed

The Food Village

By Dean Walker

The caterers at De Montfort University are struggling to keep up as they are still recovering from the effects of the Covid pandemic while prices rise.

DMU has six food outlets all run by independent company Chartwells Catering – these include the Subway, the Riverside Café and the Food Village, which is the largest of the selection.

Dawn Baker, the head chef of all six outlets across campus, has described the caterers’ struggles over the last few years.

“Before COVID, we had eleven chefs, and since we’ve been back, we have just been working with three,” she said.


These three chefs work out of the food village and make food for all the other outlets that need it, serving anywhere from 500 to 2,000 meals a day, including around 200 pizzas, 200 jacket potatoes and 1,800 portions of chips daily.

Dawn said that five days a week she works 13-hour days (getting up at 4:30am), to try to keep up with this demand.

“When you get home, you’re just knackered, and the weekends are just for sleeping,” she said.

When reopening back in 2020 after the COVID lockdowns, the overall staff had gone from 129 before the pandemic to only 18. This number has been built up since then to just below 100, but that doesn’t mean things are getting easier for the caterers.

Both shortages and price rises are the current challenges for catering at DMU, like many other businesses. Prices have gone up at least £1,000 a week for the supplies at DMU, which is around a 10 per cent increase.

Dawn said she doesn’t think some students truly understand the work and effort that goes into preparation but said “generally the customers are ok.”

The head chef isn’t afraid to deal with tricky customers though.

“I don’t care who you are, I expect manners,” Dawn said.

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