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Food Services Ready to Handle New Challenges Brought by COVID-19
When the coronavirus pandemic caused the abrupt end of residential learning at the University in mid-March, the Food Services department kept working, and responded nimbly to the changes that swept across campus.
Hundreds of students were stranded in Central New York and remained in campus housing. As essential employees, Food Services staff members reported to campus each day to continue to operate dining centers, food courts and convenience stores to support students. They assisted other departments and took on tasks unrelated to food and dining in order to support their colleagues who were working from home.
With the initial challenge of the pandemic met, the Food Services staff have now turned their attention to the upcoming semester, as thousands of students return to campus.
For the hundreds of first-year and transfer students quarantining in campus residence halls, Food Services is providing three boxed meals a day, delivered to each residence hall floor. In addition, each quarantining student’s room was pre-stocked with shelf-stable snacks and drinks, such as Goldfish crackers, cookies, ramen noodles and fruit cups.
While safely opening dining centers and cafes this fall, Food Services will continue to provide the University community high-quality food and service while adhering to the public health guidelines set forth by New York State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Just like many other food service providers affected by the coronavirus, our facilities will look a little different,” says Mark Tewksbury, co-director of Food Services.
Tewksbury has worked closely with the University’s Campus Planning, Design and Construction team to make sure tables and chairs are 6 feet apart, social distancing markers are installed properly and excess furniture was removed from dining facilities.
Other changes that students can expect include the following:
- In the dining centers, food will be served by staff rather than via an open buffet for students to serve themselves, and at the beginning of the semester, all meals will be takeout only.
- Plexiglas has been installed throughout the dining centers to create barriers between staff and students.
- In order to steer crowds away from dining centers, meal plan swipes will be accepted at retail dining facilities, including Kimmel Food Court and the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center restaurant.
- New menu items will be added at the dining centers for easy grab-and-go, in order to cut down on lines and maintain social distancing.
- The catering department has overhauled its menu and service in order to provide safe, individually packed meals at events this fall.
- Some hours of operation have been adjusted to accommodate the time needed to clean and sanitize between meals. The hours may change, so check the Food Services website frequently for updates.
- In addition to the dining environment looking different, Food Services has added additional safety precautions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures include using the GET app for contactless payment, adding extra sanitation measures and checking temperatures of all delivery drivers arriving on campus. A full list of safety and sanitation protocols are available on the Food Services website.
Although this semester will be different from any other, Food Services and its staff are prepared to meet the challenges that have come their way and are ready to welcome back Syracuse University students, Tewksbury says.
Between the University’s three food courts, five dining centers, 15 cafes, sit-down restaurant, vending machines, and a busy catering service, the department works 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to serve thousands of members of the campus community.
Questions? Comments? Reach out to Food Services at email@example.com.
Story by Keone Weigl and Jennifer Horvath