Fourteen residential college dining halls have narrowed down to just one — Trumbull, where undergraduates remaining on campus go twice a day to retrieve takeout — as Yale looks to reduce the possible spread of the coronavirus.
To minimize social contact and potential exposure, students on campus select one of two meal options accompanied by several snacks or sides. According to Yale Hospitality Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications Christelle Ramos, Yale Hospitality is adhering to University guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For graduate and professional students, Yale Hospitality is providing service at other locations on campus, such as Yale Health, the School of Management and the Divinity School. In total, they are serving nearly 450 students living on- and off-campus each day.
“Over the last few weeks, we have confronted many uncertainties and subsequent operational changes,” Ramos wrote in an email to the News. “We have an incredible, hardworking, and dedicated team who have gracefully risen to the challenge and proven to be adaptable to our rapidly changing environment. We remain committed to serving the Yale community — we are in this together.
For lunch, students choose a salad or sandwich, which comes with various snacks, such as kettle chips, fruit and dessert. Dinner is served hot and consists of an entree with several sides. While grabbing their dinner, Yalies can also pick up a breakfast bag for the following day, which includes fruit, yogurt, a granola bar or oatmeal, a muffin or bagels, milk and fruit juice. Both lunch and dinner offer a meat-based and a vegan option. Menus for the day are available online, allowing students to decide on their meal before heading to Trumbull.
Yale Hospitality uses disposable containers and utensils, and Ramos said that service standards have been “designed to accommodate for optimal packaging and transportability.” Although this results in a substantial amount of waste, disposable containers reduce the risk of spreading the virus, according to the University’s COVID-19 FAQs.
Matt Song ’23, a student in Morse College, said the dining system is fine.
“It’s probably the only time I go out each day at this point, and I see other students streaming in and out,” Song said. “The issue is that it’s very difficult to accommodate a wide variety of tastes and dietary restrictions with such a limited selection.”
Song is occasionally dissatisfied with the dining options, which causes him to skip meals. But he explained that the limited choices could pose greater challenges for other students with dietary restrictions.
According to Ramos, students can contact Yale Dining for individualized accommodations. She added that Yale Hospitality plans to expand its offerings and create additional meal options for the remainder of the term, yet the takeout model will remain limited compared to normal dining service.
“I think it’s going well right now, even though the food is often repetitive,” Max Kong ’23 wrote in an email to the News. “I don’t care about food anyway as long as I am healthy.”
Antonio Cilibrizzi ’23 echoed Kong and said that meals, especially lunches, are often similar each day. Still, he said that Yale Dining is “doing a pretty good job,” considering the requirements of the situation.
According to Ramos, dining employees are practicing social distancing and “remaining proactive with enhanced cleaning, disinfecting and safety procedures.” For example, dining staff wear masks and gloves. Staff also receive daily reminders and training to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Hand sanitizer is also available and encouraged for students as they pick up their meals.
The four students interviewed by the News agreed that the portion sizes are sufficient — especially with the added snacks. Kong said he has not had a problem with the amount of food he receives, despite it being less than what he normally eats. Still, he said he could imagine such limitations being a challenge for other Yalies. Cilibrizzi pointed out that hungrier students can grab multiple bags and “nobody will say anything.”
All students interviewed by the News also said the system is efficient and added that they each spend only a couple of minutes at most in the dining hall.
In an effort to sustain typical outreach, Yale Hospitality is continuing to provide meals to local organizations like Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen and Haven’s Harvest
The Trumbull dining hall is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for lunch and from 5 to 7 p.m. for dinner seven days a week.
Ako Ndefo-Haven | firstname.lastname@example.org