Mabee Dining Center makes changes to protect students

By Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief

In-person classes might no longer be happening and many university staff are working remotely as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the Mabee Dining Center is open and serving meals to those students and staff who are still on campus - although it’s not quite business as usual.

Director of Food Services Chris Heck said the dining center at Newman has adopted new practices to comply with new COVID-19 laws.

The first thing every diner must do when they enter the Mabee Dining Center is walk straight over to the corner sink and wash their hands. Then, they can get in line for food, standing six feet away from anyone else waiting. All the food is served in to-go boxes, and the seating area has been closed.

“We’re just trying to follow the same guidelines and make it as safe as we can for the faculty and students who will come in,” Heck said.

Foods like salads and desserts are individually wrapped to make them easier to grab, Heck said, and the salad and sandwich bar are both shut down.

“We are also giving them any amount of food that they want so they can stay healthy,” Heck said.

The caf is also now serving food that used to be served at the on-campus coffee shop The Newman Grind, he said, so items like smoothies are available at almost every meal.

Since spring break, the cafeteria has been serving an average of only about 22 to 25 students per meal, Heck said.

With fewer students coming in to eat, Great Western Dining has had to reduce its staff on campus.

“Right now we are down to a staff of two people at lunch and three people at dinner, and the two people up front do not have compromised immune systems,” Heck said.

Heck also said he hopes to see many of his staff return when school starts back up again.

Resident Assistant Thor Balavage said he is happy the cafeteria has stayed open for the few students left on campus like himself.

“I think it’s really great that they're staying open and cooking and meeting the needs of less than 40 students and are still coming in to work to give us fresh food,” Balavage said.

Balavage also said he likes that the dining hall is giving students a variety of food to choose from out of the food that was leftover from The Grind.

Heck said as long as students need to eat, the caf will be open.

“My hope is that this ends with none of us getting sick. That’s the plan, that’s our goal, to keep everyone safe as possible. We definitely are essential for kids that are still here,” Heck said.

Photo by Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief