BY DANYANG YUAN
With the announcement that all on-campus classes and activities were canceled a few weeks ago, Chartwells, Fort Hays State University’s campus dining company, also made changes to face the situation.
In March, Starbucks offered some discounts on goods. Before campus classes were suspended, many students went to Starbucks in order to spend their dining dollars; however, to limit social gathering and prevent the spread of COVID-19, Starbucks only provided to-go orders beginning March 16. With the statewide stay-at-home announcement March 28 — which officially began two days later — Starbucks on campus closed. The cafeteria in McMindes Hall also only provides to-go orders at this time.
“The cafeteria has prepared some packing boxes. We can choose the dishes we want, put them in packing boxes and take them back to our rooms,” said Mengfei Lian, an international student in communication studies who still resides in an on-campus residence hall. “In addition, we can also take a pack of potato chips and a bottle of water.”
To-go meals being served help on-campus students maintain their diets, but also help them keep sufficiently safe distances from each other.“The cafeteria still offers three meals per day Monday through Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday, they offer brunch and supper,” said David Bollig, director of Residential Life. “They are offering almost all of the same options that they did before. This includes two different hot line items, pre-made sandwiches, salads, fruit options and desserts.”
Because of the transition to online class, some students have more time to cook, and they think that cooking can reduce the number of contacts with others. Therefore, some students want to withdraw from their meal plan.
Bollig mentioned Residential Life allows students to cancel their meal plans during the first two weeks of each semester. Since the cafeteria is still offering the same service as they were prior to Spring Break, a student would need a medical accommodation to cancel the meal plan at this time. Students who had a meal plan will continue to have a meal plan. If access to the cafeteria changes, officials will revisit the changes.
Students who have a special accommodation and need to cancel their meal plan are able to request that through the Residential Life office. With the recent announcement of the Access Shuttle suspending its service, students having access to the meal plan is crucial.
Many states in the United States have issued stay-at-home recommendations. When it comes to the question of whether the cafeteria will continue to operate in the future, Bollig said that is a certainty.
“At this time, we have a plan in place that would allow the cafeteria to operate if work-at-home requirements are issued,” he said.
Chartwells continues to work with vendors to ensure the safety of the food that is brought in to be prepared and served to students.
“They are continuously monitoring the situation and training their employees on safety. Our plan is to continue to work directly with the Chartwells staff to ensure that the cafeteria can remain open as long as permitted,” he said.
According to Bollig, the overarching goal since the onset of the COVID-19 global health emergency has been to safeguard the safety and health of all of our students, faculty and staff.
He said the changes made to dining operations reflect that commitment to continue to provide healthy dining options.