This past summer, Market Café renovations included a redesign that placed one cashier per food station. The traffic flow of hungry customers consequentially increased lines dramatically; it also increased the interaction between Bon Appetit cafeteria workers and customers.
“This year is different because some of the cashiers have to handle food,” said Simone Joseph of Bon Appétit Management Company at USF. “Last year…they never had to talk.”
Before the remodel, employees handling the cash would only need to see the food order and press the buttons on the register accordingly. Now, however, they must engage fully with customers to obtain orders over the counter.
For most of the cafeteria staff this is not a problem, but Bon Appétit employs a few Chinese speakers who are not proficient in English, and thus have struggled to keep up with food orders. “They do speak English,” Joseph said, “but not well enough.”
To solve this problem (and to speed up the lines), Bon Appétit is currently in the process of hiring four student tutors to support the non-English speaking staff. Ideally, the student tutors will stand alongside the employees during their work hours, and translate for them so that they can develop stronger English proficiency as they work.
Helping these employees to speak English proficiently is important, including attending to those who have food allergies. If a customer is allergic to peanuts and asks if there are any peanuts present in the food, cafeteria employees must be able to respond.
According to Joseph, this solution is only an experiment. Time will determine if the tutoring will work in the long run.
Currently Bon Appétit has about four employees that require assistance, and the management is looking to hire at least one tutor per staff member.
Joseph said the student they hire first will develop the ideal tutoring system, one in which the interpreter does not intervene with the flow of traffic. Essentially the first tutor will train the others. “Once you have it all done and perfect, [the tutor] can go to the other three and say this is the way it’s going to work,” Joseph said.
Bon Appétit has received at least 35 applicants since they publicized their need for tutors. Joseph said Halimah Najieb-Locke, president of ASUSF Senate, was a big help in getting the word out.
“She’s the one who took care of it for me,” Joseph said.
Najieb-Locke dispursed Bon Appétit’s advertisement to classes in the School of Education.
Out of the 35 applicants, Bon Appétit randomly selected 3 for a trial run. So far, two of the three have completed their trials.
During one of the trials, the tutor wore a badge that labeled them as an English interpreter.
The badge “means I cannot make pizza, I cannot serve food,” Joseph said, “But I’m here to help [employees] understand English.”
Bon Appétit will pay tutors $12 an hour in addition to a $500 flexi bonus. Because of the influx of applicants, Bon Appétit is no longer accepting applications.