Throughout the fall trimester, Northwest’s dining program came up with a remote learning dining system that fed all families of the Northwest community. The House Specialty Remote Dining Program included prepared dinners for every Northwest school family. These dinners were a really important way to stay connected to the community. Going to pick up dinners and getting a few seconds to have a brief encounter and catch up with some of the kitchen staff has been a good way to check in with everyone at NWS.
As the Northwest community is transitioning students back onto campus, The House Specialty Remote Dining Program is discontinuing for the spring trimester. The dining program is returning to serve students lunches, but it is going to look a little different.
I had the opportunity to talk with Bethany Fong, director of Dining Services at Northwest. Bethany told me about the biggest difference between remote vs. in-person dining. She says, “The biggest difference between remote vs. in-person dining is our audience.” The remote dining program was the first time that families got to try the food that students at Northwest eat for lunch. When we are back on campus, dining will only be for students and faculty who are on campus.
This trimester of dining is going to look very different compared to last year before COVID-19. Eating lunch during covid can be hard because you have to remove your mask. For this reason, there have been guidelines assigned to the Northwest Community to assure the safety of students and staff while dining. This new program has entailed students being assigned to different locations to eat lunches so that we can ensure social distancing. For example, The dining room fits about 65 students at lunch vs. the 250 that could be seated pre-COVID.
Bethany also mentions how they are serving their lunches, saying, “All lunches will be individually boxed in compostable containers. It will take longer to serve everyone because folks have to social distance while in line, so instead of having multiple choices offered in line, boxed lunches will be prepared. Students will still get to choose between a meal that contains meat, or is vegetarian or vegan. Students can also request a gluten-free meal. The dining team will also prepare meals for folks with specific allergies.” Bethany mentions also how the Dining program has to take in recommendations from the Health department and CDC. “Due to recommendations from the health department and CDC, there are no aspects of the dining program that are shared or self-serve like the salad bar, juice/milk machines, condiments or toaster station.”
The dining team ensures the safety of the community by following public health guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing work stations with and wearing gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods. The dining program has done so much for our community this year and we can’t thank them enough!