Pandemic or no pandemic, students need to eat. But the traditional crowded campus dining hall just won’t work in these days of social distancing and heightened safety protocols. WPI and its dining partner Chartwells spent the summer revamping dining spaces, procedures, and offerings to be sure to meet the needs of the campus community.
When students and employees return to campus, they will see numerous changes in the appearance and operations of all dining facilities on campus, along with COVID-19 protocols for dining safety. Key among the changes are a reservation system for ordering and eating in dining areas, and a phone app through which diners can make reservations, as well as obtain information on the six campus dining areas operated by Chartwells. The reservation system helps manage the number of people in dining spaces; diners will need to show their reservation confirmation when entering dining spaces.
The adjustments have been made in accordance with local, state, and federal guidelines, as well as input from the WPI Coronavirus Emergency Response Team (CERT).
“The most important step a student can take is using the reservation system when dining on campus,” says Michelle O’Connell, marketing manager for Chartwells. “And even with quick grab-and-go takeout foods, we want people to reserve a window of time for pickup so we can avoid crowding and maintain distancing.
“We’re asking faculty and staff to use the reservation system as well, so we can keep track and control the numbers and ensure we have ample offerings and space for everyone as we adjust to our new normal.”
More details about dining options (expanded and adjusted hours, menus, and other services) can be found on dineoncampus.com/wpi. “The Dine on Campus app has all the information and will be the go-to site,” says O’Connell. “All student meal plans allow them to dine at any Chartwells eatery on campus.”
Joe Kraskouskas, director of dining services, says all dining areas are configured to seat about one-third of the normal number of diners. Auntie Anne's Pretzels/Planet Smoothie will not be open for regular operations at the Foisie in A-Term or B-Term. Instead, the area is now the Foisie Café and will serve sandwiches, salads, pizza, snacks, and desserts for pickup.
In addition, the Gateway 24/7 Micro Market, On the Go Convenience store in Founders Hall, and Dunkin’ in the Campus Center will be open for food and beverages. The Quorum breakfast and lunch bistro in Higgins House will be serving faculty and staff.
Kraskouskas says diners can expect to see two more 24/7 food vending options later in the fall, including Sally the Salad Robot, which should be open next week.
“Anyone can go to the Wedge [between the Morgan dining area and Daniels Hall] and customize a salad in under three minutes," he says. And in late fall, the Smart Pizza robot, which can make a pizza in four minutes, is expected to be at same area in the Wedge.
The Goat’s Head hours have been expanded to include breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
O’Connell says diners are required to wear a masks, but can take them off once they sit down to eat, and will have to sit 6 feet apart from others.
One exception to the 6-foot distancing requirement will be at designated pod seating, for those students who live together. Kraskouskas described the arrangement as similar to family dining.
Some Info You Need to Know
● All buildings on campus, including the Rubin Campus Center and other dining facilities, require ID card access.
- Reservations are needed for any on-site dining, and for pickup
- All on-campus dining locations will offer takeout options.
● Self-service items like salad bars, soup bars, and self-service silverware will be eliminated; food will be served by Chartwells staff or packed as grab-and-go.
● Enhanced cleaning protocols will be in place, and hand sanitizer will be available at the entrances of each dining location on campus.
● Plexiglas shields will be installed at all workstations and cash registers.
- All dining will be cashless—diners can pay with credit/debit cards or Goat Bucks on their WPI ID. Students will receive a 10% discount when using Goat Bucks.
Those with questions may call Dining Services at 508-831-4869 or email email@example.com.