Students Respond to Changes Made to Quarantine Meal Plan

For the duration of the universal quarantine, all meals have been provided via grab-and-go locations where students pick up their food and beverages, an adjustment from the Fall 2020 universal quarantine. 

The new meal system is available for all first-years, sophomores, juniors and seniors who opted in to quarantine meal services. Meal pick-up locations include Frank Dining Hall, the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) or Donovan’s Pub, where students line up socially distanced and choose food behind a transparent counter. Before students arrived on campus, Colgate provided students with a reusable bag and lanyard to carry meals. When receiving a meal, students receive a reusable clamshell container to transport their food back to their residence which they return the next time they pick up a meal.

During the Fall 2020 semester, meals were instead delivered to student residence halls in disposable containers. President Brian Casey explained that this new quarantine dining system addresses excess waste from last semester while also offering students more choice for their meals.

“One of the things that really made the [Fall 2020] quarantine hard was that you couldn’t choose [meals]… So, Frank Dining Hall, the Coop and Donovan’s Pub were radically altered and have proscribed pathways. The idea was, could we allow for choice safely? We thought we could, and it had a secondary effect of reducing waste. The sheer amount of wasted food in the first semester was something we wanted to see if we could avoid,” Casey said.

Director of Operations and Interim Resident District Manager of Colgate Dining Services Patrick Raynard said that giving students various meals to choose from was a significant change when improving from last semester’s quarantine dining system. In the Fall, students could only choose between two options for every lunch and dinner, one of which was vegetarian.

“[In the Fall 2020 semester] students only had these choices in what we sent them. So we talked about a system for picking up [food] in different locations, and we talked about how that would help with variety so students could choose what they wanted when they walked in versus being sent a box of food that they maybe didn’t like everything in there,” Raynard said.

According to Raynard, the Colgate Dining Services team’s most considerable adjustment has been making sure that students are physically distanced from each other when receiving food and that staff members serve meals to students promptly.

“The biggest adjustment is making sure that we’re keeping students distant when they come in and making sure that no one is waiting outside. Instead of packing 1800 bags a day [during the Fall 2020 quarantine period], we have to make sure we have enough staff to serve the students as they come through to make sure that that process is not taking longer [than it should],” Raynard said.

Raynard said that student reception to this meal plan system has been positive, especially compared to the previous meal delivery arrangements in the Fall.

“I’m impressed with how students have adjusted to the system, and I’m nothing but thankful to all the students for bringing in their reusable containers, their bags and just for the simple fact of walking to get their food, especially in this cold weather,” Raynard said.

Senior Mark Jaschke, who has received meals during the quarantine period in both the Spring 2021 and Fall 2020 semesters, prefers this new system of going to a designated location to pick up meals.

“I think there is a benefit from picking meals up just in terms of giving us more options to choose what our meal is for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is essentially the same [packaged meal] as it was [in the Fall]. I think overall, it’s a better system than last semester’s,” Jaschke said.

Jaschke pointed out that the meal delivery system from the Fall was more convenient for students.

“I think with last semester, we did have the option of choosing all of our meals beforehand, so knowing what you’re going to get in advance is an added benefit. I also think not having to walk outside to get each meal is better. In the winter, I’m not sure if it would’ve been an issue to continue on [with the meal delivery service] from last semester,” Jaschke said.

Senior Hakan Madenci, who received meals during the quarantine period in the Fall, chose not to opt-in for this semester’s quarantine meal plan.

“The food was reasonable, but I prefer to cook meals as I like my food much more. Having options to choose what to cook with from my ingredients is better than having to choose from a menu with only two options,” Madenci said.

Madenci explained that a deciding factor in not choosing to sign up for meals during quarantine this semester had to do with the absence of the delivery system.

“I didn’t want to walk to Donovan’s Pub to get my food every single time I wanted to eat something. It is a lot more convenient to cook your own food in a kitchen instead of going outside, especially in this cold weather,” Madenci said.