Extensive planning by Elon Dining supports safe environment for guests this fall

Elon Dining has created new protocols and reimagined serving stations this summer to support health and safety at all dining locations.

Elon Dining is deploying best practices, increased safety protocols and a creative reimagining of its dining locations across the university as it prepares to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus at the start of a new academic year.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic early this year, Elon Dining has been working to adapt its approach to food service to protects its guests and staff, and that work has continued through the summer in preparation for a return to campus this fall.

Residential dining will continue by observing physical distancing guidelines, decreasing capacity in locations, reimaging serving stations and removing self-service items. Tables and chairs have been removed or shifted to account for physical distancing recommendations and procedures as put forth by state regulatory departments. Directional signage laid down on flooring will create clear pathways for location entrance, station queue points, location flow and location exit areas.

“Things have changed, as you know, but we are still here serving amazing food in a safe manner as we always have,” Executive Chef Jay Vetter shared in a video that provides and overview of the changes.

All Elon Dining employees will wear masks as soon as they enter buildings, with employees washing their hands, sanitizing their shoes and having their temperature checked before their workday begins. Frequent hand-washing and sanitizing will be required, along with additional protocols to help ensure safe food handling, storage and preparation. More details about these safety precautions are provided below.

Retail dining will continue with physical distancing guidelines, decreasing capacity in locations, adding mobile ordering at several locations, adding to-go options and redesigning the egress locations at some locations. Plexiglass dividers have been installed in all retail dining locations to allow for safety while still providing for excellent customer service.

“We’re excited for your return to campus,” said Laura Thompson, regional district manager for Harvest Table Culinary Group, which operates Elon Dining. “We’ve done a lot of planning this summer to make sure that we have a lot of protocols in place so that you feel safe in our dining operations, but along with that, we’ve created a lot of new and interesting ideas to bring to the table, and we hope you’re excited with the additional changes you’ll see in our dining programs this fall.”

Among the new service styles and features guests will find at Elon Dining locations on campus:

  • Compostable containers: Plates and metal silverware will be removed from service areas and will be replaced with recyclable products to limit potential spread biological contaminates. All items will be served in disposable containers and then passed to the guest; each station will require a new container to reduce contact.
  • Served stations: All self-service items, including the salad bar will be eliminated, be plexiglass enclosed, and placed in strategic locations behind service lines for greater convenience and will be customizable. All self-service dessert stations will no longer exist and will be converted into prepackaged in-house baked items that will be individually wrapped. All beverage systems will be adjusted to be attendant-poured beverages.
  • Check-in procedures: As a precautionary measure all employees will be required to follow new check-in procedures that will ensure that prescribed health standards are met at a minimum before their workday begins. Employees will wash their hands, sanitize their shoes and have their temperature checked all before entry is allowed.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Appropriate personal protection will be worn by all employees based on their role and responsibilities and in adherence to state and local regulations and guidance. Training on how to properly use, proper laundering and dispose of all personal protection gear will be mandatory. Every employee entering the dining locations will be provided a mask and required to wear the mask while on site.
  • Hygiene and sanitation: Correct hygiene and frequent hand washing will happen every 20 minutes. All employees will change gloves after hand washing and in between tasks. There will be increased frequency of swapping serving utensils and platters during and after service times, with full sanitizing and disinfecting of food contact surface areas, serving areas, cooler door handles. Service stations, service carts, beverage stations, counters, handrails, will be sanitized every 20 minutes.
  • Online ordering: New online ordering will be available through a new phone app in retail restaurants across campus where physical distancing is impossible. These locations include Qdoba, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Boar’s Head Deli, Biscuitville, Freshii, Flat-Out and Acorn Coffee Shop.
  • More grab-and-go options: Enjoy in-house made charcuterie boards, fruit trays, overnight oats, granola bowls and more between classes. A new marketplace, Market Under the Oaks, has been added to McEwen Dining Hall. It  will offer great dorm room staples, snacks and drinks to the Historic Neighborhood.
  • Continuous service: All dining halls on campus will not close between meals, giving guests more flexibility to grab a mid-morning breakfast or a late lunch.
  • Extended hours: More locations will remain open past 8 p.m. than in prior years, including: Clohan Hall (open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday) and Lakeside Dining Hall (open until 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and until 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday).

For more information about Elon Dining’s preparations for and new additions to its services this fall, visit www.elondining.com. More information about Elon’s Ready & Resilient plan for the new academic year are available at www.elon.edu/rr.