Dining services adapt to health recommendations

Students take a break from moving in and eat lunch in Penland Dining Hall on August 20. Ava Sanborn | Photographer

By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer

Along with the many changes to campus Baylor students will see this fall semester, dining services have been adjusted to meet health recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and local health authorities.

Baylor announced that all dining facilities, retail eateries, convenience stores and coffee shops would be open this fall semester. Changes to meal plans, technology, service style, employee safety measures and cleaning enhancements by Aramark are planned.

Aramark Resident District Manager Sean McMahon said there will no longer be any self-serve bars around the dining halls to mitigate the risk of contamination. Aramark employees will be serving food to guests instead. Employees are following safety guidelines including utilizing face coverings, temperature checks, frequent hand-washing and daily wellness checks for symptoms. McMahon also said employees will be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks.

There will be an expanded Quick Eats Grab and Go service to limit physical contact and wait time at the dining halls. Individualized catered boxed meals will be available along with extensive grocery offerings to reduce the need for students to leave campus as well as the opportunity for individualized catered boxed meals.

Aramark issued a statement saying it will use “a new platform to safely support and deliver catering orders as clients re-open and students return to the campus community.”

President Linda Livingstone outlined in an email that signage and floor stickers will be used to direct guests through the dining areas, and tents will be used as overflow for seating areas due to limited seating in the facilities. New technology will also be introduced for contactless swipes as guests enter the facility and mobile ordering for pick-ups.

McMahon said that the number of customers in the dining halls will be monitored by a technology called Occuspace.

“Occuspace is an app that monitors building occupancy via Bluetooth and WiFi signals. Our locations will follow the state guidelines of 50% capacity,” McMahon said.

Aramark is also taking extra precautions toward sanitizing.

“All of our residential dining locations will close for cleaning between meal periods and will utilize the use of electrostatic sprayers for added disinfection of large areas,” McMahon said.

In the statement, Aramark listed its new cleaning enhancements: “Implementing heightened sanitation throughout dining areas for employees, faculty, staff, and students; Frequent disinfectant at high-touch areas; Deep cleaning of campus facilities and dining halls in both front- and back-of-house areas; Installing hand sanitation stations at all building entry and exit points and dining areas; Encouraging students to continue washing their hands and using hand sanitizer on a frequent and consistent basis.”

Baylor has been working in partnership with Aramark and McLennan County with guidance from the CDC and Texas to ensure that dining hall capacities and other changes are up to standard. McMahon said that they have also developed several contingency plans covering a variety of situations in the case of an outbreak.