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A look inside Vanderbilt’s new and improved COVID-friendly dining services

After a bad student satisfaction survey, dining services redesigned the program for the spring semester

After an unsatisfactory fall semester with students and parents alike registering complaints about dining services at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, the university’s dining staff took action.

The first areas to improve? Menu diversity, communication and COVID-friendliness.

Students picked up meals in large tents to reduce the congestion of traditional areas but now, with indoor dinging opening up, students are increasingly sitting down to eat at the cafeterias so food diversity could be increased.

The fall 2020 semester (rolled out in the middle of the pandemic) had meals that focused on portability but were not hits with students taste buds. So, for the spring semester, dining services partnered with local restaurants in Nashville for daily pop-ups across campus with cuisines that range from pizza to Mexican to Asian dishes.

To communicate these new changes to students, the staff developed a printed brochure describing the updated service and menu, relied heavily on Instagram and other social media channels to share information on meal swipe protocol, updated location and services and new safety protocols. A series of brief online videos helped convey the protocols as well.

Campus dining also added DiningNews text alerts, which could disseminate operational changes and other information quickly and directly.

See a photo tour of the new improvements at Vanderbilt for the spring semester.

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