In order to combat the spread of COVID-19 while still providing students with meals, the University of Rhode Island has made significant changes to dining services around campus.
Due to restrictions and safety guidelines, all of the dining options are to-go and students must follow guidelines and safety regulations when inside and outside of the dining facilities. These regulations include wearing a mask at all times, social distancing while waiting in lines and following the indicated traffic patterns.
Butterfield Dining Hall has two options for students with active meal plans: an all-you-care-to-eat line and an express line. The all-you-care-to-eat line includes stations for fruit, salad, yogurt, pizza, homestyle, burritos, as well as a drink and condiment station where bread, condiments and desserts are provided.
Butterfield’s express line is also open to meal plan holders only this semester and is also entirely to-go. This line offers pre-made meal options for quicker pickups such as sandwiches, wraps, fruit, salads and drinks.
While Mainfaire is typically open for dining services, it is now open only as extended seating, where students can bring their to-go meals from one of the other dining facilities to eat.
However, while the dining hall at Mainfare may be closed to ordering food, the convenience store and Rhody Market Pizza Xpress are still open, offering grab-n-go pizza and gelato. For more options for grab-n-go’s, Brookside Bistro, Rhody Market Sushi Square and Junius “Babe” Gertz Cafe are open as well as Ram’s Den, which features breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night service on Wednesday and Sunday.
URI’s Director of Dining and Retail Food Services, Pierre St-Germain, said that the dining hall has changed because the employees have to serve everything now, rather than the usual serve yourself option. In order to expedite this process they have to offer specific stations instead of having every option open.
“It’s a completely different dynamic so I think that’s okay for some students, but I don’t think students [know] how much more work that puts onto the staff, and that’s not to say that we’re upset about it, but it’s just a managing thing,” St-Germain said. “We’re happy to serve students, we’re happy to be here and we certainly want the students to have a positive experience while being safe.”
Despite the array of dining options, students still appear to be lacking in positive feelings towards the dining experience; the minimal options at Butterfield Dining Hall are getting to students who resultantly often find themselves eating in the Emporium or off-campus many days of the week.