Changes made to on-campus dining to ensure health and safety

Dining on campus? Here's what you need to know

By Mason Hightower
On September 3, 2020

Photo by Ian Saint: 
Students maintain social distance while waiting in line at the newly remodeled CAF. 
The space has been optimized for student saftey.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to affect the lives of students, on-campus dining at ASU has received several adaptive changes. 

Recent social distancing practices have affected the way students wait in line, eat their meals and even the times they have access to food. Additionally, new cleaning routines, mobile ordering and to-go only dining options add to the ability of ASU and Chartwells to provide meals to students while still keeping them safe.

Social distancing appears in two main parts of the on-campus dining experience. Firstly, lines at the on-campus dining locations will consist of circles or markers on the ground placed six feet apart from each other, usually with arrows pointing to the next spot in line. These changes to the queues are designed to keep people properly spaced out and help avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Though the lines appear much longer due to the spacing, Stacey Patterson, director of marketing for ASU, said the lines are no longer than they normally are during rush hours and students shouldn’t experience any unnecessary delays under the new social distancing restrictions. 

The second major change is in the seating available in the dining locations. Most tables have had their capacity reduced to only one or two seats. The seating is also staggered with at least six feet of space between chairs. This has reduced the capacity of every on-campus dining option. The CAF, for example, has gone from over 500 seats to just 124.  Kailee Malleck, assistant director for special events and facilities at ASU, said there are a total of 22 dining and seating places in the University Center. “The seating within our facility is fluid as we gauge the need for social distancing around the operational queues,” Malleck said.

To compensate for this reduction, several new systems have been implemented. Near the CAF, the dining tents from Rambunctious Week will remain standing for a few weeks to accommodate this issue, after which the university will assess whether they are still necessary. Additionally, takeout has been streamlined at all dining locations and is being considered the ideal method of receiving dining service during a pandemic.

There are several locations operating on a to-go only basis. The Starbucks location on campus is only serving their drinks and snacks in a take-out capacity. This practice is the result of a mutual decision between the Starbucks Corporation, ASU and Chartwells to help keep employees and students safe. Roscoe’s Den and Revolution Noodle are also only available to-go due to the space available and to give the most safety for guests and staff.

The GET mobile app can be used to help facilitate the to-go process. People who use the app can order from The Ranch Smokehouse, Subway, The CAF, crEATe, Roscoe’s Den and Revolution Noodle. Ordering through the app is a safe way for staff and students to dine on campus, Patterson said. Unfortunately for diners, the service isn’t available for Starbucks or Chick-fil-A. The app has been available for nearly a year now, and has been a great help to the on-campus dining process during the COVID-19 pandemic, Patterson said.

Chartwells has also implemented extensive cleaning, sanitation and disinfection processes. They’ve been doing daily wellness checks on employees since March and increased the frequency of their sanitation procedures. Masks, gloves, plexiglass health shields, barcode readers and increased cleaning procedures are all being used to ensure student and staff safety. Additionally, employees socially distance in the back-of-house areas and close daily between meal times to clean the space for the next wave of guests.

One of the main concerns due to the pandemic is whether or not Chartwells will reduce the number of food options available to guests on campus. Patterson said the stations at the CAF, which were formerly self-service, like the salad, soup, waffles and dessert areas, are all still available; they’ve simply been moved behind the counters so that an associate can distribute the food to guests. The only effect the pandemic has had on menu availability has been the occasional item being removed due to scarcity reasons. As long as ASU dining has access to the ingredients needed, they’ll be serving a full menu of meals again this year.

Although the on-campus dining experience has changed drastically, students will still have access to the services that they rely on. Patterson said ASU and Chartwells are working diligently to keep everyone on campus safe in this ever-changing situation, and updates will be provided as they become available. Students and potential diners can stay up to date on menus and hours of operation by visiting dineoncampus.com/Angelo. Guests can reach out to Angelo Dining with questions at chartwells@angelo.edu.

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