Dining services on the Walla Walla University campus are preparing to reopen for the start of the freshman orientation experience, JumpStart, and will open on Sept. 13 for students approved to be on campus for fall quarter. As part of the reopening process, Sodexo Dining Services is implementing special COVID-19 safety protocols.
“As students start arriving on campus this fall it is more important than ever for my team to focus on their campus community experience. This year will be different than in the past, but our goal is to offer more than just good food and good service. Being part of their campus experience is critical to supporting students as they embark on and continue their college experience, an exciting chapter in their lives,” said Michael Benca, general manager for Sodexo Dining Services at WWU.
Benca shared the following details about what to expect in the cafeteria this fall.
When will the dining hall open again?
The cafeteria will provide meal service for new freshmen who are arriving on campus for JumpStart beginning with brunch on Saturday, Sept. 5, from 12 to 2 p.m. During JumpStart, which begins on Tuesday, Sept. 8, freshman students will come to the cafeteria in groups of 50 every 15 minutes.
The cafeteria will open for all students, faculty, and staff who have authorization to be on campus beginning with the evening meal on Sunday, Sept. 13.
Can students, faculty, or staff bring guests to the dining hall?
Unfortunately, guests will not be allowed in the cafeteria at this time. Students, faculty, and staff who are authorized to be on campus must use their WWU ID card to access both the dining hall and the Student Association Center (SAC).
What changes have been made in the cafeteria to increase safety?
1. Dining hall occupancy and traffic flow
The seating in the dining hall has been reconfigured for social distancing and for limited dine-in occupancy. Stanchions will be placed throughout the dining hall to direct traffic flow, and signs on the walls and floor will provide instructions and reminders for appropriate traffic-flow. The amount of seating available will comply with Washington state guidelines based on phases of reopening.
2. Sanitization and employee training
There will be an increased number of hand-sanitizer stations in the main dining hall and in the SAC. Each food-service station will have a floor stand hand-sanitizer dispenser.
Sodexo employees have received specific training for COVID-19 protocols. They will wear masks and gloves and will have easy access to fresh supplies of these items. Sodexo employees will have their temperature checked every day as they report for work and must sign a form attesting that they are free of COVID-19 symptoms. The Sodexo organization has provided additional sick time for their employees to alleviate concerns about missing work, and Sodexo will employ more personnel in the cafeteria to clean contact points as people leave the dining hall.
3. Food options and service
Menus have been streamlined for easy and safe access to food. Changes include new dining options that have been prepared in advance, such as wraps and sushi, and complete salads rather than the self-serve salad bar. There will be no self-service in the cafeteria. The foods that students love most have been reworked to reflect COVID-19 protocols. (Of course, there will still be haystacks!)
Preordered takeout meals will be available from the main dining hall. Simple to-go options, including a smoothie of the day, will be available from the SAC.
Will dining hall hours be the same as last year?
Dining hall hours have been adjusted to allow more time for food service, fewer people in the dining hall at one time, and additional cleaning between meals.
• Breakfast—7 to 10 a.m.
• Lunch—10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
• Dinner—5 to 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday
• Brunch—10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Dinner—5 to 7 p.m.
Posted Sept. 2, 2020