University of Connecticut Dining Services established changes to its operations for the fall semester to maintain COVID-19 guidelines and adjust for the reduction of on-campus residents.
According to the frequently asked questions on the dining services website, dining services will operate take-out only during the two-week quarantine period for on-campus residents. After quarantine has been lifted, dining halls will switch to a mixture of dine-in or take out. In addition, there will be tents set across campus for options to eat meals outdoors.
“Compared to any other food establishment I’ve been to, the dining halls seem really safe. I don’t like how wasteful it is with all the disposable containers and utensils but I understand why it’s important right now, especially for the safety of the people working at the dining halls,” said Renee Dackow, a third-semester nutrition major.
Of the eight dining halls on campus, only five will be open during the fall semester, according to the dining services website. South, Putnam, Northwest and McMahon will be open from the beginning of the quarantine period (August 14) to the end of the fall semester. North dining hall will open when classes begin on August 31. Dining services like Grab and Go will not be in service, however cafes across campus will operate on reduced hours, according to the dining services website.
Towers (Gelfenbien), Whitney and Buckley dining halls will not be open due to a significant drop in on-campus students, according to Dining Services’ Frequently Asked Questions page. It is also noted that all food must be served by dining service employees. Towers and Whitney dining halls have counters facing walls, making it impossible for employees to serve food in a safe manner.
Areas where food is served have plexiglass to maintain a safe distance. Dining halls have also been marked with arrows on the ground to direct traffic flow. Once swiped into the dining hall, students have the option to pick up a paper bag in the beginning and stay a safe distance in line.
As the line moves through each station, students tell dining service employees what they’d like to eat. Meals are served in portions, instead of buffet-style. Food is served in take-out containers and employees hand the students their food and drink.
C. Dennis Pierce, executive director of dining services, explained in a video that menus will be the same.
He also noted that because of the closure of a few dining halls, dining halls will be open later. New hours keep the dining halls open until 8 pm instead of the previous 7:15 pm. Kosher and halal foods will be available throughout the dining halls across campus. Late-night options will also be available once classes begin.
Amy Chen is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.