On-campus dining changes amid the pandemic



Students have the option to get their food in single-serve containers. (Photo by Heesoo Yang.)

By Alexandra Preusser

Students dining on campus this fall should get used to limited seating, reduced menu options and social distancing.

All students with a meal plan will receive the Ultimate Flex plan, which allows them to eat wherever they want on and off-campus with their Frog Bucks.

Magnolias, Zero7 and Chick-fil-A will offer pre-packaged menu options, mobile pre-order and payment, and new traffic patterns and pickups, according to an email from the university.

The university recommends students download the Grubhub app to take advantage of the new takeaway and pre-ordering service.

All campus dining locations except the Bass Building Cart will be open and will offer an almost “touchless” experience, meaning there will be no self-serve options, Craig Allen, the Director of Housing & Residence Life, wrote in an email to the university.

“King Family Commons will operate much as it has in the past, but we will make some changes to try to speed up service,” Allen said.

Some students expressed positive impressions of the changes.

“The takeout process [at King Family Commons] is pretty easy and fast so far,” said sophomore movement science major Emma Bair. “The pre-packaged food has been good as well.”

All dining locations will be limited to 50% seating capacity with the ability to adjust as state and local guidance change, according to an email sent to students by the university.

Students will also have plenty of options for outdoor seating as TCU has added tents for additional seating.

Students practice physical distancing in Market Square. (Photo by Heesoo Yang.)

Rollin’ n Bowlin’, originally located in the University Recreation Center, will now be in Union Grounds in the Brown-Lupton University Union this semester.

“Given the restrictions to the use of the Rec. Center, we wanted to put Rollin’ n Bowlin’ in a place where students could more easily get to it and use it. Union Grounds was a perfect location,” Allen said.

Everyone who enters a dining area will have to wear a face covering and sanitize their hands when they enter. In addition, people will have to stand six feet apart, and the number of people at a table will be limited.

With the inevitable increase in single-serve, disposable containers and utensils, TCU is planning on getting as many recyclable containers as possible, said Jude Kiah, the vice chancellor of student affairs administration.

Students, faculty and staff will not be permitted to bring their own cup or water bottle into the dining hall.

“It’s definitely been weird eating in a space I don’t personally watch being cleaned and with so many people, but I trust everything TCU says about their cleaning process which makes me feel a lot better about eating in a public place,” said Claire Abele, a first-year communications major. “The staff are all very committed to following all CDC regulations.”

Students are asked to sanitize their hands before entering a dining area. (Photo by Heesoo Yang.)

Some aspects of the dining experience will stay the same. For example, the hours of operation will remain the same, and no food stations will be removed.

However, there will be fewer items on menus so food can be delivered quickly, said Kiah.

“Serving people food quickly, safely, happily – that is the primary goal,” Kiah said.

Kiah said he thinks some of these changes, like no self-service, will stay for the long term.

Allen added that it is critical for students to follow all campus safety guidelines if they want to stay on campus for the entire semester.

“I’d also ask for students to understand that dining will look different than it has in previous years. We will adjust as we need to, and we ask for patience as we work out any challenges that come up,” Allen said.