Olivia Papp ’23
As the fall semester progresses, it is crucial for students to take a moment to reflect on the copious amount of work that has gone into ensuring the Trinity community stays safe Each day, staff across campus put forth their best effort to instill some sense of normalcy amidst the unruly circumstances, and each day these people come to work and risk their wellbeing to carry out their jobs on a college campus.
Arranging a safe model that would feed nearly 2,000 people each day, while simultaneously following Center for Disease Control guidelines, was crucial to ensuring a safe return to campus. The Mather Dining Hall staff was thus faced with an incredibly unique task: planning for a style of dining that has never been done before. The staff was presented with the challenge of creating a safe and healthy environment for anyone who walked into the Dining Hall.
To construct this new style of dining, Mather Dining Hall employees met many times over the summer, brainstorming ways in which students could dine in a way that followed CDC guidelines. When asked about the process Mather underwent to arrive at the current form of dining, Mather Dining Hall Director Todd Alden relayed that they adhered to “guidance from the CDC and local government along with Chartwells’ safety and operational guide, “Path to Open,” we crafted a plan that would best serve our guests in the safest manner possible while continuing to offer flexibility and convenience. Our plan was reviewed with Trinity’s administration to ensure it aligned with the campus community plans. Currently all foods are packaged for students to take food to go and seating is currently unavailable in all dining venues.” Alden and his staff have tried to implement some flexibility for students in accordance with their dining experience, “our approach is three tiered and the options we developed and built on three pillars. First, to ensure the safety of the campus community and the dining team. Second, to provide a great dining experience, and third, to ensure speed of service to maintain social distancing while dining.”
Although the Dining Hall is working smoothly and efficiently now, there have been several challenges which the staff has had to work through, “our biggest challenge was communication – how and what was the best way to inform the community of changes while ensuring they felt safe to dine with us and that we are providing a dining experience that students will enjoy,” said Alden, who plans on re-opening dining hall locations once it is safe to do so. Staff is currently working with the Trinity Administration to re-evaluate the services offered, and how those services are delivered.
Despite these strides, there has unfortunately been a substantial amount of waste produced, and it has been difficult to find an alternative method that still protects the community. Alden’s also spoke on sustainability efforts, indicating that while Mather has shifted to disposable containers, “we remain committed to our sustainability efforts. We recognize the environmental impact these containers have and are working closely with our partners to find alternative solutions that better serve the environment while keeping our guests safe.” Alden encouraged students to visit the DineOnCampus website for more information on sustainability efforts.
Alden noted that Chartwells “encourages Trinity students to visit our dining website to view daily menus, hours of operations, provide feedback, and obtain meal plan information.”