How Salisbury University Dining Services are coping with COVID-19

Updated: Nov 24

This pandemic hit everyone hard, and we’re all scrambling to find ways to cope, stay safe and still lead lives that resemble normality.


“I was initially nervous about coming onto campus after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, especially with having to go to Commons,” senior Cheyenne Gunther commented.


That idealism was a commonality throughout the entire student body. However, with the carefully implemented measures through the actions of Salisbury University’s Dining Services, students have the ability to dine with ease.


Responding to the altered living situations, SU Dining Services partnered with GrubHub to create an on-campus ordering system that makes getting food quicker, easier and safer for the campus population.


Throughout this partnership, students have the ability to order and pay for their food through the GrubHub app and have their meals ready to be picked up upon their arrival.


Owen Rosten, SU’s director of Dining Services, was able to divulge into his organization's post-COVID alterations and provide an inside look at some of the changes it has put in place.


“Students’ time is valuable,” Rosten said. “Our whole motivation, through this apocalypse, was to find a way to be respectful and to be safe. And it motivated us to move our technology forward a lot faster than we might’ve had we not been faced with this situation.”


Before most of the students got back for the Fall 2020 Semester, SU had changed its system entirely: kiosks had been implemented, staff had been trained and menus had been changed. Rosten said that flexibility and ability to change so quickly is because “we work directly for the students, not for another company.”


Due to the fact that SU doesn’t filter its services through a third-party company, it was able to make these quick changes without going through the process of getting permission from overriding organizations.


When COVID-19 hit, Rosten and his partner George Oakley set out to find a vendor partner with mobile app capabilities.


“GrubHub had name recognition and most of the students coming here already had that on their phone,” Rosten said. “Students have enough burden ... we didn’t want to do something that was not familiar to students, that they would have to learn [something] new.”


After GrubHub bought another system and integrated campus funds and dining dollars, it was a match made in heaven.


“With the GrubHub system, I feel much more at ease because I don’t have to sit inside and close spaces waiting for my food to be finished,” Gunther commented. “It decreases my chances of exposure to COVID-19 and ultimately helps everything run more efficiently.”


But it wasn’t always easy, and there is still a variety of issues that continue to rise. They still had to train cashiers to work with a completely new system, get students to engage in the new system and Rosten worries that it might be taking away from the campus’s sense of community.


“Right now, students have very little to do socially on campus except to eat,” Rosten said. With the plethora of take-out options and the variety of challenges our country is facing, these implementations have the ability to assist students in the transition to living with COVID-19.


The end of the COVID-19 restrictions are seemingly nowhere in sight, so the alterations of the SU Dining Dervices will likely span into the next semester and beyond. We have the ability to develop our sense of community through working cohesively to take active measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the actions taken by SU Dining Services are just one of the many ways SU is providing safe and efficient methods of living throughout the pandemic.



By STEPHANIE RIVERA and DAELYN FUNK

Gull Life editor and Staff writer

Photo credit: Summer Shaper.

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