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What to expect from dining services this semester

Belmont’s dining operations will look a lot different this fall in order to keep students socially distant and as safe as possible while on campus. 

Dining services has implemented additional safety efforts such as touchless scanning systems in all on-campus dining options, limited seating in dining areas and a heat-mapping system allowing students to see how busy certain dining areas are.

A major change to Harrington Place this semester is the elimination of all self-service food options, with the exception of drinks.

Students will have their food served to them in the meal lines — with the option to stay and eat in the cafeteria or have their food boxed up to go.

“All the packaging in Harrington Place will allow all the food to be carried out,” said Keith Chapman, director of Auxiliary Services. “So, if students want to come in and grab something off a hotline and package it up and take it with them, that will be allowed.”

The option to box up all meals from the cafeteria as takeout is new to this semester. 

While students will still be able to eat in the cafeteria, there will be a seating capacity of 600, as well as plexiglass shield dividers between students sitting at the same table.

“You will have to sit with your friends and look through plexiglass to see them but it will provide a barrier,” said Chapman.

Another change to Harrington Place this semester is the addition of lunch frames in hopes to decrease the number of students within the cafeteria during a given time.

“We just felt it was good to give students a choice as to when they could come so that we wouldn’t have the situation of people standing in line with nowhere to sit,” said Chapman.

Students were asked to sign up for a lunch time for when they plan to visit the cafeteria during their Monday, Wednesday, Friday class schedule and their Tuesday and Thursday class schedule. Lunchtimes were broken down between 11:00 am -11:45 am, 11:45 am -12:30 pm, 12:30 pm – 1:15 pm and 1:15 pm – 2:00 pm.

However, if students do not feel comfortable visiting the cafeteria there will be additional Simply-to-go option stations in the Thrailkill and Kennedy lobbies open Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.

At these locations, students will be able to pick up sandwiches and salads just like in the Simply-To Go station in the cafeteria. Students will be able to see what is being offered at these locations through the Bite app as the menus will rotate to provide a variety of options, said Chapman.

Through using the Sodexo’s Bite app or Grubhub, students will be able to preorder and prepay for meals from most of the on-campus dining options.

“The Bite app has added an ordering system. So students are going to be able to order food from Corner Court or any place but Chick-Fil-A,” said Kyle Grover, director of Belmont Dining Services. 

The Bite app will allow students to prepay for meals using both declining points and bruin bucks as a payment option, said Chapman.

The app will also come in handy for students to judge how busy places like the Curb Cafe and Harrington place are with the use of heat mapping.

“We have added a heat mapping system in the dining hall and in the curb cafe that will be tied to Sodexo’s Bite app that will allow students to go on the app and judge from the heat mapping sensors just how busy it is in any location,” said Chapman. “So, if you get a high heat signature in the cafeteria, you know it’s really busy and it might be a good idea to go somewhere else.”

With all the changes in the dining centers around campus, Chapman asks students to remain as flexible and patient as possible over the course of this school year.

“Be patient, practice safety in the spacing and lines, wear your mask, and just be patient,” said Chapman.

“We are in for a very interesting school year.”

This article written by Madison Bowen.

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