George Prillaman was appointed Food Service Director of the UNC Chapel Hill food service in 1951 after being in charge of auditing the program from 1948-1951. In the following years he transforms the program into one of the best in the country and this lands him with an interview with Inplant Food Management so he could tell his story. Some of the highlights include keeping labor costs at 32.1%, offering some meals for 40 cents, and paying for all renovations from profits.
In the article he discusses how he conducted time studies in all 6 food units throughout campus in order to discover time wasting. This led to him firing over a third of the staff without raising wages. He calls this “innovation” and the savings from it went to a 40 cent menu and renovations for the dining halls. While the article highlights how he made the business profitable, one can see the hardships this put on students. The hours of many dining halls were limited and meat was often either middle or low grade. He also could be accused of sexism as the cafeteria in Spencer Hall (Women’s only dorm) did not have a 40 cent special menu, there were no entrees served, and guests had to be approved by the manager. The men’s only dorm (Ehringhaus Cafeteria) was cheaper, higher quality food, and students did not have to sign a contract to eat there.
For workers, they did not get a raise despite having to do more work and when George Prillaman was asked if there had been any complaints during his tenure, he brushed aside the question saying “there is an organization on campus to negotiate wages with but they are already the highest paid on campus.” This casual dismissal shows the warning signs of the impending food workers strike as he doesn’t compare the wages to other universities or kitchen staff in Chapel Hill.
36-43, in Inplant Food Management Vol. 11, No. 2, (Feb.1964) #Cp378-UC63 North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. https://search.lib.unc.edu/search?R=UNCb4764739