Dartmouth Dining facilities open for students following arrival quarantine

by Lauren Adler | 1/25/21 2:05am

by Lorraine Liu / The Dartmouth

As the eight-day quarantine period for students arriving on campus comes to an end, students will soon be able to access several campus dining locations. Though many of the same dining restrictions from fall term will still apply, Dartmouth Dining will offer a variety of new options, including a halal station and a late night meal service at the Class of 1953 Commons, and may soon be able to accommodate students indoors.

When the majority of on-campus students — roughly 1,400 — transitions out of quarantine after receiving a third negative COVID-19 test result, they will stop picking up meals from designated quarantine locations and gain access to ’53 Commons, Collis Cafe, Novack Cafe and Ramekin. Despite a delay in reporting test results, College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote that the College “hopes to open [these facilities on] Tuesday at noon as planned.”

Going forward, Dartmouth Dining director Jon Plodzik said that he hopes to provide a variety of “exciting” options for students, and he is “very hopeful” that campus dining facilities will be able to offer indoor seating beginning on Tuesday. 

“It’s really important to me that [students] have places to dine — to see each other and make connections,” Plodzik said. “To me, having indoor dining is pivotal to this entire term and the success you have at Dartmouth.”

According to ’53 Commons general manager Brandon Crosby, Dartmouth Dining will hold a celebration dinner including prime rib, seafood scampi and butternut squash risotto on Tuesday to mark students’ transition out of quarantine.

Other new Dartmouth Dining offerings will include an outdoor barbecue held over Winter Carnival weekend, a halal station located in ’53 Commons, developed with the help of the Muslim student association Al-Nur, and additional seating available in Sarner Underground, which can be accessed from the lower level of ’53 Commons. 

Beginning on Monday, ’53 Commons will also offer late night options between 9 p.m. and midnight, including mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders and quesadillas made to order.

Dartmouth Dining will also take a variety of precautions to keep both students and employees safe. Like students living on campus, Dartmouth Dining staff are tested for COVID-19 twice each week and must fill out a temperature self-assessment survey each day. Staff will continue to work behind plexiglass walls and follow disinfecting procedures in the dining room once it opens, and ’53 Commons also recently passed a routine health department inspection.

“We think we’re in really good shape to provide a safe experience for everybody, both workers and the students coming in,” Plodzik said. “We’re very, very fortunate that we’ve been safe and intact the entire time.”

Since the majority of students living on campus moved in on Jan. 16 and 17, students have participated in a two-stage arrival quarantine, during which meals were first delivered to dorm common areas and later served at four designated pickup locations. 

“For phase one, it was a little disappointing that the food was cold, or occasionally the fruit or a bag of chips was missing,” Emma Briskin ’23 said. “For phase two, the process has been really easy, and the food is much warmer and fresher.”

The arrival quarantine menu featured six main tracks, including kosher and halal options, and included more diverse options for people with dietary restrictions than were offered during the fall quarantine. Plodzik said that while cold breakfast and lunch were served during fall quarantine, hot options were available during every meal period of winter quarantine, in part due to the cold weather.

Students who spend time in isolation housing during the winter term will be able to order meals and have them delivered to their buildings, similar to the first phase of the initial quarantine period.

“There is a fair amount of food on [the isolation housing] menu that was designed for comfort,” Plodzik said. “Soup is on that every day, Jello — there’s always a turkey sandwich and a grilled cheese.”

Katherine Shannon ’23, who lived in isolation housing for several days upon arrival on campus due to exposure to COVID-19, said that while she has had some technical difficulties with the website used for the ordering process, her overall experience has been “going pretty well.”

“The quality is probably not as great [as normal dining] because there’s a smaller selection of stuff, so if you don’t like certain things then you’re kind of out of luck,” she said. “But generally I feel like the portions are reasonable, and they do their best to provide a nice variety of snacks and stuff, so I haven’t been disappointed.”

Students dining indoors will have to sit six feet apart, though tables have been configured to allow interaction, according to Plodzik. Briskin, who picked up her meals at Novack during the quarantine period, said that while she is concerned about the possibility of long lines and other complications due to social distancing regulations, she is excited to “see Foco again” and eat with friends.

“It’s been lovely eating with my roommate, but I’m excited to be able to get meals with my other friends who are up here,” she said. “And I want a cookie. I’m excited to eat a warm Foco cookie again.”