by SHAWN FLEETWOOD & SARAH PERRY
Over the summer, UMW Dining Services announced that students would be seeing some changes in regards to dining in UMW facilities. Several preventative measures were put in place in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among UMW students and faculty.
One of the biggest changes in UMW dining is the addition of Grubhub to campus. In the past, the only delivery system on campus was through Vocelli’s Pizza. Now, for a fee of $0.59, students are able to order from any retail location on campus and have it delivered. Students also have the option to pre-order their meals and pick them up from the Grubhub express lines at the University Center. Any orders through Grubhub can be paid for through student meal plans.
Several changes have also been made in the UC. Previously, students were able to swipe their Eagle One cards to access the all-you-can-eat buffet, salad bar and pizza station. Students also had the option to stay in the dining area as long as they wanted, within the hours of operation. In light of recent changes, Dining Services announced that there would be no more self-serve station or indoor dining. Instead, staff attendants are located at the various food stations in order to fill students’ orders. Instead of the ceramic bowls and plates that students have used in the past at the UC, students’ meals are now placed in single-use to-go trays. The hope is that these measures minimize the number of people in the UC, while still feeding as many students as possible. Students are also required to wear masks while inside the dining facility.
Dining Services has also advised that students have an idea of what they want to eat prior to visiting the UC, in order to limit the amount of time students spend in the area. In addition to menus being posted at the entrances, students can also check the menu on the BiteU app.
“I can see myself using [BiteU] a lot,” said Raymond Ellis, freshman. “It makes it a lot easier to know what there is to eat.”
According to Dining Services, knowing the new dining procedures is critical because the socially distanced dining “roads” inside the dining facility are only one-way, with no backtracking allowed.
“At first it was really confusing,” said senior Paige Beidelman. “But they have added signs and there are people guiding you where to go. That is much more helpful.”
Dining Services also highlighted how in-depth cleaning has become a top priority for the dining staff. In addition to more frequent and intensive hand washing, surfaces will consistently be wiped down with disinfectants. Plexiglass barriers have also been put in place, with sanitizers also being made available to students. Arrows direct students where to move in a one-way path. Staff are stationed throughout the UC to direct students which one-way paths to use for different stations and to manage social distancing.
It is not only the UC that has seen changes this semester. Eagle’s Nest is now offering more to-go options for students. Over the summer, renovations were made to Eagle’s Nest to make the to-go options more accessible.
Before, Eagle’s Nest not only had to-go options, but self-served pasta salad and regular salad bar to pay based on weight. These self-serve pasta salad and salad bars have been removed for the semester.
Several students on campus have voiced their understanding for the recent changes but have also expressed their desire for things to return to normal.
“There was nothing better than going to the UC after a long class with some friends,” said senior Brendan Mayer, a marketing major. “This year is going to be so weird. I understand we all have a part to play, but I just wish things would get back to normal so that we can all enjoy being on campus together.”
Leona Comstock, a junior and business administration major who just transferred to UMW this semester, agreed.
“I was really looking forward to getting the full college experience, but COVID kind of screwed everything up,” said Comstock. “Honestly though I think these changes are for the best in the long run. Hopefully they’ll go a long way in getting us back to normal sooner.”
These new changes in dining will remain in place for the foreseeable future, as the UMW community continues to grapple with the ongoing pandemic.