Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Chartwells reworks dining for fall 2020

Wednesday, August 19, 2020
The main entrance to Redhawks Market is marked off and directs students to a new entrance in the back of the building. Many dining locations have adapted a single flow line to make it easier to avoid bottlenecks at entrances and exits.
Photo by Ramond Buck

Students will see a drastic change in dining and food areas on campus to allow for social distancing and the safe distribution of food.

To aid in keeping lines small, Southeast’s dining provider Chartwells plans to utilize the app Boost at several locations on campus: Starbucks, Panda Express, Subway and Build Pizza. The app allows users to schedule their orders ahead of time as a quick alternative to waiting in lines.

Chartwells Resident District Manager Matthew Ludwig’s goal is to add the ability to utilize meal plans by the start of classes on Aug. 24. Currently, students can use debit/credit, flex or Redbucks to pay in the app.

“I’m currently working to get meal plans to integrate and work with the Boost app,” Ludwig said. “I don’t have specifics on how that will work yet, and I’m not sure when that will be implemented. There’s just a question right now as to whether you’ll be able to pay in the app with your meal plan or if you’ll have to pay when you come to pick up.”

Self-serve options will be removed and associates will be serving students to mitigate the dangers of high-touch items.

In addition, more Grab ‘n Go options will be made available as an alternative to the served food. These options are kept in coolers with some cold food items and others that can be reheated. Some of these items include sandwiches, salads and Panera soups.

Dining establishments will also establish a new single-flow line to control how many people are getting food at one time. Redhawk Market’s queue will begin near the entrance of Chick-fil-A, toward the back of the dining room near Panda Express, and will exit by the registers near Starbucks.

Decals have been added to the floor of many campus locations to guide students in social distancing in public.
Photo by Ramond Buck

“We will have floor decals to map traffic flow, and we will also have floor decals to mark spacing in our lines,” Ludwig said. “In areas where we’re able to have a separate entrance and an exit, we are trying to keep traffic flow so it’s all moving in one direction.”

Some locations will see a reduced menu to aid in cutting down wait times. Ludwig said this change will help employees prepare food quicker, rather than having to switch between different options.

“Burger 573 in Redhawks Market, we have limited that menu,” Ludwig said. “That’s a very busy station, they have a lot of offerings. … We will be doing wings, but we’ve taken some of the specialty sandwiches, chicken tenders and those things off the menu. We’ve tried not to take away anything that’s not available somewhere else.”

Students with a premium meal plan are encouraged to plan to use their meals spaced evenly throughout the week, to lower the chances of having leftover meals at the end of the week, that could lead to long lines at locations like Rowdy’s as students try to use up the extra meals they’ve saved up.

“If you are on a premium meal plan, if you’re going to come in for lunch one day, is it possible to purchase your dinner for that evening?” Ludwig said. “Because that would save you a trip to Rowdy’s [or elsewhere].”

Chartwells is working to aid this process by making location menu boards and prices available on their website.

In addition to these changes, Chartwells removed excess tables from dining areas, leaving eight feet between tables to allow for social distancing. These tables accommodate four people at a time and any larger tables have been removed.

To ensure a lower transmission of germs, employees will sanitize high-touch surfaces every 30 minutes and thoroughly disinfect them at the end of every shift. After each sanitization, the time will be updated on a placard for diners to see.

Alicia Ticer, Chartwells director of marketing for Southeast, said that cutlery and cups will be available on request, to cut down on possible contamination. Ticer addressed this in the Living on Campus: Housing and Dining Webinar Aug. 5.

A flyer reminding diners to pay for meals by cashless payment sits on the divider between the cashiers and diners. Chartwells made the decision to move to cashless payments to cut down on the germs that can be spread through paper money, diners can use their student ID's or debit/credit cards to pay.
Photo by Ramond Buck

Ticer said Chartwells will be moving to cashless payments to cut down on the transference of germs in the passing of money. Diners are encouraged to use their student ID or debit/credit cards to pay for their meals on campus.

Ludwig said even with these changes, Chartwells still plans to hold their premium nights at Towers Café and St. Vincent’s Commons, as well as an endless plate at Redhawks Market. They will also hold virtual events on Facebook Live or other streaming platforms.

While there are many changes, Ludwig wants diners to know to reach out if they have any questions. Contact information for Chartwells staff can be found on their website.