Chartwells still operating under unusual circumstances

Whitney Winter, Staff Writer

While hundreds of students are safe at home and enjoying home cooked meal, some students are still residing on campus and dining with Chartwells.

Director of Dining Services Michael Carlson and Director of Operations Mary French provided some insight to the dining services at Wayne State College. Both directors said Wayne State Dining (WSD) is currently serving carry out meals for dinner/lunch and supper in the main dining hall (aka upper). There is no in-house dining allowed due to the State of Nebraska’s “shelter in place” advisory. Dinner/lunch is now served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. while supper is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. During the supper period, students, staff, and customers have the option to request a “carry out a next-morning breakfast meal for an additional meal swipe, flex, or cash/credit purchase.”

According to French and Carlson, Wayne State Dining is adhering to a corporate menu and has limited services. A menu cycle has been designed to accommodate their carry out meals.

“We are also featuring themed menu meals such as the Asian Extravaganza that was held on April 7th at lunch, Easter Luncheon that will be held on April 12th and Steak Night on April 21st,” Carlson and French said.

As of right now, Chartwells and WSD have not reported any food and/or products being unobtainable during this pandemic.

Ashley Ternus, a freshman, stayed on campus for a week after classes were moved to remote delivery.

She said there were “supper small [amounts of] choices” and there was rarely pizza available.

Sam Wesely, a junior studying chemistry and chemical science, said Rooted and G8 are available upon request but would really like “our pizza option to come back.”

Wesely said students were allowed to eat in the dining hall the first two weeks but now all services are to go.

“Personally, I believe once they made the decision to let us eat in the cafeteria it should’ve stayed that way,” Wesely said. On the other hand, he “would like to thank Chartwells for staying open during this entire situation,” Wesley said. “It really is so appreciated by all the students still here that food is not one of the things we have to worry about in our current situation.”

Both Cat’s Corner (a.k.a. Lower) and Einstein Bros. Bagels (located in the library) are currently non-operational. WSC is encouraging social distancing to help “to mitigate any risk of potentially spreading germs and to keep our associates, students and customers healthy.”

“Chartwells continues to monitor the Coronavirus outbreak closely and we remain steadfast in our commitment to the campus community as well as our commitment to the health and safety of our students, associates, faculty and staff,” French and Carlson said.

Customarily WSC has 114 full-time, part-time and student associates that service all three dining locations.

“We sincerely look forward to welcoming them back upon our return to full service,” French and Carlson said. “We currently have 12 associates and managers that are essential to helping ensure that the students and members of the current campus community are well nourished.”

French and Carlson said the principles of the food service management remain the same while supplies are merely provided in a smaller volume. Chartwells have removed bulk condiments and replaced them with individual cups or packets. These would include: ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, butter, salsa, hot sauces, salad dressings, etc. The dining services have also replaced their metal utensils with prepackaged utensils, removed bulk cereals and replaced them with single serve cups.

Some other changes Chartwells has done are suspended use of personal cups at the water and soda fountains while providing a single use cup in “lieu of the Wayne State Dining Cup for the Free Refills Program”, as well as, providing a to go container with their reusable Good2Go container exchange program.

Robyn Isom, a junior at WSC, resides on campus and said the menu is “very limited with only a few options each meal.”

The dining hall is closed for seat dining with only one line for meals and stations are no longer self-serve.

Shelby Butts, a junior, resides and dines on campus said “only allow 6 students in the main dining center at a time, to avoid crowds and adhere to the social distancing guides…you can come back if you would like within the allotted time period.”

Butts said she has asked to have the hours extended, from one hour to an hour and a half, since she has to attend Zoom meetings during the allotted time frames for each meal.

Chartwells representatives said they have increased the number of hand sanitizer stations in the main dining hall and implemented social distancing decals on the floor to help ensure student and staff safety.

“Cleaning has always been a top priority, so we are just increasing our sanitation practices by changing out service utensils more frequently, by keeping the menu items that are being served covered and by maintaining our strict cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting protocols,” Carlson and French said.

The associates preparing/serving the food are changing their gloves more frequently than mandated and are required to log their hand washing practices. Each associate is checked over when they arrive for their shift for any coronavirus symptoms, according to French and Carlson.

“We very much miss the engagement and activity associated with a fully active campus,” Carlson and French said. “Chartwells has proudly partnered with WSC for the implementation of the recommendations made by the local, state and national advisories as well as the CDC, but we look forward to delivering a high level of food and dining service performance for all of the returning and incoming students in August.”