Dining Hall procedures change


Media: Anna Carroll '23

Photo Courtesy of Anna Carroll ’23

Seating in the Dining Hall is arguably the biggest visual difference in the extensive changes brought to campus by necessary restrictions. Whereas the entire student body and staff used to eat together in one room, students are now spaced out between much larger tables in both the main eating hall and a new tent on the Seal Patio. Accommodating for the 525 students (some online) and their everyday needs while social distancing can be challenging, but the Dining Hall staff has come up with creative solutions in aspects such as the preparation of food, traffic within the dining hall, sanitization, and accommodation of students. 

“Every day it’s been better and better and better; you guys are getting to know what’s going on; it’s almost like everyone’s working together like a spoke in a wheel,” said Jimmy Fekelman, the support manager of the Dining Hall. 

With the high possibility of contracting coronavirus, strategies have been designed to combat specific problems. The food preparation process has changed to limit student contact with not only each other but also the food itself. Since food now needs to be individually packaged, the variety of options have decreased compared to last year to ensure student safety. The self-serve salad station and sandwich station from last year have been replaced with packaged fruits, salad, and sandwiches. The traffic flow, on the other hand, took on the concept of “one way” to limit the chances of students getting too close to each other. 

Lunch service has also been altered. The lunch break now runs from 11:30 to 1:30, as opposed to last year’s 12:25 to 12:56, to accommodate the on-campus students within four rotations. The new four-block schedule allows less waiting time and more efficient rotation. The Dining Hall staff, while having all hands on deck to guide the traffic flow, also take on the responsibility of sanitization. The new cleaner kills coronavirus on the surface and needs a two-minute period to air dry. The rotation schedule not only allows more efficient meal time but also ensures student safety with more thorough sterilization. 

To help accommodate the more structured lunch schedule and rigid rules as well as maximize the limited seating arrangement, Dining Hall staff now have to assign seats in real-time. 

“Sometimes I get separated from my friends, which is unfortunate, but it’s okay because it’s a fun way to meet new people I wouldn’t normally talk to. It’s like a blind date or something,” said Noorie Dhingra ’21.

According to Iha Chikala ’21, “The lunch schedule itself, I think, is confusing in the beginning, and I think it’s even more confusing now because there are four different sections. But I think what helps is that we have advisory groups, so, like, in a sense, our advisor is telling us what time to go at, and I think that makes it easier. And even though it is more confusing to have four different groups, I think it’s better people don’t have to wait in the line as long.”