At Maryville College in Tennessee, General Manager James Dulin of Metz Culinary Management began meeting with university administrators back in early May to discuss benchmarks and health guidelines, and to develop a detailed campus dining plan. Procedures were adapted to correlate with recommendations from the CDC and state of Tennessee and were designed to maintain safe conditions for both the dining staff and for customers while providing the Maryville community with as appealing and convenient a foodservice program as possible.
Maryville is typical of smaller colleges and universities, which have tended to be more open to holding in-person classes than larger public universities according to a recent analysis. Smaller schools also tend to have closer relationships between staff and students than larger, more impersonal institutions, and this intimacy has traditionally been one of the benefits of attending such a school. Unfortunately, it is also one of the potential casualties of a COVID-ravaged world that requires social distancing and touchless transactions, so the Maryville/Metz dining team has had to work hard to ensure that its connections with its customers are maintained as much as possible under the circumstances.
In our podcast interview with Dulin, we talked about how the school’s dining hall and retail outlets have been balancing service and safety considerations in the month since classes began, the menu adjustments that this year’s COVID-imposed changes have required, the protocols the dining team established for students wishing to dine in and the school’s continued commitment to sustainability through the use of reusable takeout containers, among other issues.