Smooth transition back to in-person dining at residential halls

Students+sit+around+talking+at+a+table+eating+food+at+Ikenberry+Hall.+Dining+halls+are+now+returning+to+in+person+dining+this+semester.

Cameron Krasucki

Students sit around talking at a table eating food at Ikenberry Hall. Dining halls are now returning to in person dining this semester.

By Royal Shrestha, Staff Writer

Dining halls have transitioned back to a fully in-person dining experience this semester. Many residential dining halls are becoming hybrid and giving students the option to take to-go meals. 

During the fall 2020 and spring semester, all residential dining halls primarily served to-go meals to students. Options were oftentimes limited due to certain food restrictions during last year. This year, dining hall menus are slowly transitioning back to what it was like prior to the pandemic.

Carrie Anderson, interim senior assistant director of Dining Services, described how the transition has been going smoothly so far but one area of focus is dining halls going back to their same meal schedule. 

Last year, to ensure no dining hall was getting an influx of students, all the menus were kept very similar among all the dining halls. This year, as each dining hall has a chef in charge of designing the menu, there has been much more variety among the menus now.

“The transition back to our in-person dining was a little simpler than our change to to-go last fall,” Anderson said. “Since we already knew the process for in-person dining, we were able to identify which pieces could safely be reimplemented in the dining halls and which parts of our COVID protocols we wanted to retain for safety.”

Last year, due to stricter COVID-19 guidelines, most residential dorms had a lower capacity of students living in them compared to the full capacity of this year. As a result, some COVID-19 safety guidelines are still in place as well as new ones being added on. Students living in University Housing can now use the mobile app, Order Ahead, to place food orders at FAR and also the 57 North location at Ikenberry. 

Anderson also described how this year, they are all excited to start offering more educational programs such as cooking demos and sampling events among the dining halls. 

“We are so very pleased to have our students and customers back in our dining spaces,” Anderson said. “When we dine together, we strengthen our communities. Knowing that our Illinois community feels safe dining with us, is so very important to our commitment of creating spaces that promote holistic health and well-being.” 

[email protected]