Dining Beat: Students adjust to new dining regulations amid pandemic

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Freshens, the Student Union Marketplace and every cafe on campus has been shut down until further notice. This leaves South dining hall as the only remaining place where students still on UConn’s campus can get meals.  Photo by Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus.

Freshens, the Student Union Marketplace and every cafe on campus has been shut down until further notice. This leaves South dining hall as the only remaining place where students still on UConn’s campus can get meals. Photo by Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus.

Students who have chosen to stay on the University of Connecticut’s Storrs campus are facing strict regulations on when and where they can eat due to COVID-19 concerns.

As of March 22, South Dining Hall is the only operating dining hall for students staying on campus. Its hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

The decision to only open South at this time is one of several that dining services has had to make in the past weeks as Freshëns, every dining services operation in the Student Union and every cafe on campus has been closed until further notice.

Henry Mackin, an eighth-semester chemical engineering major, has been adjusting to each change that has been made so far. Mackin and his fellow students staying on campus have been complying with social distancing in South while also dealing with the change of dining location from Northwest to South.

“The process began over Spring Break when only Northwest was open. It was take-out only, so when you swiped yourself in, you got two plastic containers and utensils … And now currently, they’ve added duct tape on the ground separating us all by 6 ft., and managers meter students entering the [South] dining area to ensure there are only 10 students in at a time,” Mackin said.

While Mackin admits the adjustment has not been an easy one, he said he does appreciate how seriously UConn and dining services are handling the matter.

“It’s certainly been strange and difficult to adjust to this, but I am fortunate enough to have a car that allows me to easily get to South,” Mackin said. “I feel bad for the many students who have to walk across campus to get food. Overall though, I’m happy to see that UConn is taking this seriously while still providing food options for students.”

Mackin is pleased with the process and how everything is being handled, but he does recognize that it is not perfect. In particular, Mackin wishes the process by which students get food was faster.

“I think the only thing I wish would change is the speed of the process — due to the metering and staff service, the lines can quickly become very, very long, even out the door,” Mackin said. “Of course, this is a result of all of the new processes and likely understaffing, but it would still be nice.”

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Thomas Alvarez is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at thomas.alvarez@uconn.edu.

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