COVID-19 changes campus dining

Garvey has grown more quiet due to the coronavirus. Photo credit: Isabella Kraft

With the COVID-19 pandemic many changes have come to the SCSU campus, with the dining hall being no exception.  

Garvey Commons has seen many changes this year to accommodate regulations from the Minnesota Department of Health. Luke Robinson, the Director of Dining for Chartwells, said the biggest challenge were time and capacity changes, which was downsized from 650 people to 150 people. 

“We have had to limit people to a certain amount of time because we do close the dining hall for a couple hours a day now in order to completely clean, scrub, sanitize,” Robinson said. “Trying to maintain really serviceable hours and still provide that sanitation level that people are expecting as they go out now.” 

The flow of the dining hall had to adjust as well. Self-serve was replaced by staff portioning food to help reduce contact. Arrows were added to the floor to help traffic flow to reduce contact as well.  

“In a nutshell, lots of little changes hopefully didn’t affect the flow of what we did on a normal basis,” Robinson said. “We still want to provide people with the opportunity to come in and have a comfortable space, but still do it in a safe fashion.” 

Attendance at Garvey has decreased due to less students on campus because of virtual classes and a decrease in the student population. However, Robinson and staff project that attendance next year will return to 50-60 percent of what it was before COVID-19.  

Other food services on campus have changed as well, such as limited hours at Atwood dining options. Stores such as Erbert and Gerbert’s and Caribou Coffee are temporarily closed due the small number of people that are on campus every day. 

“We have had to reduce hours in order to still be a viable business, but for the most part everybody has been very accommodating to the changes we have made over there [Atwood],” Robinson said.  

However, some students have felt the loss of familiarity with these changes. Student Clara Welhouse wishes that more options were open but is happy that COVID-19 restrictions are being taken seriously.  

“We used to sit together with almost ten of us at a table and that was bonding, and it is disappointing that students can’t do that,” Welhouse said.  

Bringing forth a community aspect was a vital factor this year, but not the most important.  

“The goal for the experience is not necessarily to make people feel comfortable this year; [it] was to make people feel safe,” Robinson said.  

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