Closures affect food options for students left on campus

Autumn Page, Staff Reporter

With COVID-19 raging globally, Oakland University and many campuses have had to make adjustments to dining hall hours and other food options.

Over the past weeks, OU’s dining halls, Pioneer Food Court and cafes have had their services and hours adjusted. 

Chartwells, OU’s food supplier, has spoken out about how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected their services and kept students and faculty up-to-date via social media. 

“We created a plan early to ensure a safe food service environment and to reinforce our stringent health and hygiene standards,” Resident District Manager Mark McCormic said via email. “We reduced the number of locations that could serve our guests and limited the hours of service. We have followed the CDC guidelines for handwashing and hygiene etiquette as well as increased the frequency of our sanitation practices. Going to take-out only in all locations and having our associates serve the product has greatly helped to minimize surfaces our guests could touch.” 

Before Chartwells decided to do dining hall carry-out only, students used to be served their food when the pandemic was starting to worsen. The dining halls had students go up to the food and take what they wanted originally. Carry-out and being served are major differences within dining halls that students aren’t used to. Being served enabled the use of disposable products where possible, lessening the possibility of spreading. 

With the growing number of cases within Michigan alone and Governor Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, the food court restaurants have been closed until further notice and the dining halls are carry-out only. 

“The food court was reduced to Panda Express and Subway from the 12th of March until March 20 (Monday-Friday, from 10:30-3 p.m.),” McCormic said via email. “We decided to close Panda Express after service on March 20. On March 24, we closed down all retail locations for the Oakland Center retail due to the Shelter in Place order.” 

He mentioned that the Oakland Center retail hours will be revisited and discussed after the order is lifted. 

Carry-out orders can only be obtained by residents with a meal plan. Only five people can be inside the hall at a time and are expected to eat the meals in their rooms or residence halls. 

McCormic further explained the carry-out process, saying, “the guests will be able to pick the items we have prepared, and our team will add the product to their container.” 

The food options have changed as well. Some areas within dining halls have been closed to limit the amount of space students have to walk around. 

“In Hillcrest, the Grill and Pizza station are in the back of the dining hall,”  he said via email. “Those have been closed, and the Grill items are now available in the Home-Style station. At Vandy, the G8 and Home-Style station are in the back. We reduced those stations down and are now serving those products from our Innovate station in the middle of the dining room.”

There have been no decisions made about further changes to dining halls. McCormic noted there are still students who live on campus, and there needs to be at least one dining hall open. 

“We have not decided on any further reductions of locations or service,” he said via email. 

Tilly’s and The Hive are the remaining cafes that are still open, but there’s no expected reopen date for Frankie’s Cafe at this time.