Campus vending machines become fully stocked after two years of labor shortages

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BYU Vending has been working to address labor shortages in their department. They say the campus machines should be full again soon. (Ariel Harmer)

After nearly two years of labor shortages and supply chain issues left many campus vending machines vacant, their shelves are becoming well-stocked once again.

According to BYU Vending employee Sam Larsen, when the COVID-19 pandemic emptied campus in March 2020, BYU Vending services found it difficult to hire enough workers to maintain vending machines on campus and in the MTC.

Recently, BYU Vending has gained more employees by increasing the starting wage from $9 per hour to $12 per hour, with an additional $2 in employee dining meal credits for every hour they work, said BYU Dining Services Retail Operations and Technology Director Joe Tiapson.

“We’ve received lots of feedback from our students, and they love the meal credit,” Tiapson said.

Larsen, who has worked at BYU Vending for over a year, said he feels confident the wage increase has helped fill his department. According to Larsen, the competitive pay rate has attracted more employees and enabled them to catch up on stocking vending machines.

“Pretty much everything is up to date,” Larsen said.

Larsen has worked for BYU vending for a little over a year and said he saw the effect of labor shortages on the campus vending machines firsthand. However, now that hiring has increased, Tiapson said workers are finding it hard to keep up with the demand of students because they are not receiving enough products from their suppliers.

Tiapson shared that BYU Vending is working to fix the issue by bringing in additional vendors to supply products. “We continue to meet regularly with our vendor contacts to brainstorm solutions,” he said.

Over the past two years, students have noticed the sporadic availability of products in campus machines. Mikayla Randall and Austin Schofield, both BYU students, said some areas of campus have been better stocked than others.

“The Helaman one is always out of order and understocked,” Randall said. “And the card readers are finicky.”

Schofield said that the vending machines tucked in the stairwell of the library’s main floor tend to be more reliable, especially with the recent hires keeping them stocked. “They keep them stocked really well,” he said. “I’m just here for study snacks, and the vending machines always have what I want.”

Students may continue to see some empty shelves on campus as BYU Vending works to stock machines and address supply chain issues, but Tiapson said he believes the department’s efforts to bring in new hires and work with vendors will pay off.

“The campus can expect an improvement in service in the next week or two,” Tiapson said.

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