With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, some accommodations and changes had to be made to dining services in order to serve students and staff as safely as possible. It is a campus requirement to wear masks and social distance wherever you go, and the dining halls are no exception.
“The planning process began as soon as everyone left in March, and it was extensive to say the least,” said Parkhurst general manager, Katie Boyd. “Keeping everyone safe has been key, but also balancing the safety component with our services and menu offerings.”
To limit the spread of the virus, Mercyhurst’s dining halls have implemented limited seating, with 100 maximum seats in the Grotto, a maximum of 40 in the 501 Grille and 15 in the Roost.
Students have to go through a temperature check in order to get in the dining areas, which is certainly different from years past.
There is plexiglass placed around serving stations, to protect both Parkhurst employees and students.
To ensure that the dining halls can abide by capacity limits, Mercyhurst has also implemented outdoor seating for students to eat with their friends and enjoy the summer weather.
The tents, which can seat between 12 and 20 people, can be found in Trinity Green, in front of the Grotto or outside of Ryan Hall. If you do not have time to sit down and have your meal, however, Parkhurst continues to have you covered.
Mercyhurst’s dining halls now have an option for students to take out their food if they are in a time crunch or just feel safer eating in their living space.
The dining halls already use single-use plates, cups and utensils in order to minimize potential exposure to germs, but they also offer takeout containers for those who want their food on the go.
In addition, the salad bar in the Grotto has since been revamped into a station called Hurst in a Hurry, where students can grab breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, fruit and many more items if they only have a few minutes between classes or just want a quick snack.
Students also have the option of utilizing the GET app in order to receive meals. You can use the app at the Grotto, the Roost, the 501 Grille, the Laker Inn and the Anchor Express to order meals and pick them up at your requested location.
All you have to do is go into the app, put in your student ID information, place an order and your food will be ready at your selected pick-up time. Most meals will be ready in just 15 minutes, but you also have the option to schedule an order pick up for a later date and time.
“Students benefit from the GET App for a couple reasons. One is speed of service. The order is ready and they don’t have to wait in line,” Boyd said. “Another new feature is that you can use your board plan for three different menu selections at the Laker Inn only through the GET app.”
The app also shows how many meals you have left in your meal plan, the hours that dining halls are open, as well as how many Bonus Bucks and Dining Dollars you have remaining.
The Grotto is open every day from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., and the 501 Grille is open on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., but there are many locations and many different ways that students can receive their meals.
Because the dining halls are operating in new territory, changes will be made throughout the semester to best serve the campus.
“Now that we are open and we have been able to see this new way of service, we are counting on our guests for feedback,” Boyd said. “We are tweaking things as we go, we want to be flexible in this new model to ensure we are accommodating our guests appropriately. We are focusing on making things fun, and not so clinical … even though safety will not take a back seat to our services.”
Our way of life as we know it right now might be very different from what we are used to, but students and faculty alike have done phenomenal work in working around these trying times.