In this special edition of 5 Things, Food Management highlights five things you may have missed recently about developments regarding coronavirus and its impact on onsite dining.
Here’s your list for today:
- Walsh University offers free first-term housing for freshmen, transfers
As colleges—especially smaller liberal arts schools without significant endowments to fall back on—scramble to attract students to their campuses for the fall term, Walsh University in Ohio has announced that it will allow freshmen and transfer students to live on campus for free for the first eight-week term. Walsh is also switching from 15-week to eight-week terms to create more flexibility for students, potentially allowing them to graduate faster; it has also already instituted a freshman tuition freeze and four-year graduation guarantee. Walsh is also freezing tuition for all sophomore, junior and senior students for two years beginning with the 2020-2021 academic year.
A task force made up of roughly 20 people, representing all aspects of the Walsh campus, is examining how to restart programs in the fall, including taking a close look at social distancing and safety measures in classrooms, residence halls and the dining hall.
"For instance, our dining facility we imagine doubling that space just so people can space out," said University President Dr. Tim Collins.
- Hospital begins allowing limited visitors, cafeteria visits
Trinity Health System in Ohio is beginning to ease visitor restrictions at its Trinity Medical Center West facility by allowing one designated visitor 14 or older per day per patient. Visitors must wear a mask, stay in the patient room and leave only to obtain food from the cafeteria. They may not use the lobby areas as lounge areas and all outside food must be prepackaged and sealed. All packages are subject to inspection by security.
- Major KC employers make return-to-work plans
Major private employers in the Kansas City area are making plans to resume onsite work as Missouri begins reopening following coronavirus-related shutdowns, and the reopening plans obviously include strategies to handle onsite services like dining and other amenities. Generally, offices will run below their usual capacity for months with many cafeterias and fitness centers closed or limited, masks required or at least encouraged and new rules governing the use of staircases, walkways and elevators.
At tax preparation services firm H&R Block, for example, the company’s cafeteria and coffee shop will not allow employees to sit down, and neither will reopen to the public for some time. Employees also must wear masks in common areas and times they are unable to maintain distance from others.
Meanwhile, healthcare technology firm Cerner, the region’s largest private employer, has announced that it will close its fitness centers and FM Innovator of the Year winning cafeterias while elevators will be limited to two passengers and all staircases will be designated for one-way travel, either up or down.
Hallmark Cards plans a limited reopening of its headquarters on June 1. The company will initially bring in 10% to 15% of its 3,000 or so corporate employees, said spokeswoman JiaoJiao Shen. Hallmark will close common areas to spread employees apart and will screen workers before they come to the campus, she said.
- Stranded George Washington students can order meal kits online
SAGE Dining Services, which manages dining services at George Washington (GW) University’s Mount Vernon Campus, has been delivering meal packages that students have ordered to residence hall rooms since March 23. The deliveries are designed to feed recipients for a week and benefited the few students left isolated on the Foggy Bottom Campus after GW made the switch to online classes in March.
The kits include a mixture of non-perishable items like ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, crackers, cookies, paper goods and utensils. Students can order a kit for $98 through an online form, with the contact-free deliveries often arriving at residence halls within 24 hours of the orders being placed.
- Robert Morris University plans August reopening
Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pennsylvania is still planning to open its campus in August as scheduled, assuming the region has been moved by that point into the “green” phase under Governor Tom Wolf’s system of rolling back coronavirus restrictions.
RMU is planning to have students move into dorms, but with increased sanitizing and close monitoring of everyone’s health. For students who test positive for coronavirus, isolation will be possible in a currently unused dorm building and the school plans to create a “Colonial Corps” of campus personnel trained to do contact tracing after anyone tests positive.
Changes to campus dining will include more widely spaced seating and assigned times to reduce crowding. Takeout will be encouraged.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]