Unsung Heroes of Campus: Dining in the time of Covid

Grace Bromage ‘23

Chief Features Editor

It is easy to take for granted or forget about the work that goes into services on campus, especially when most of us aren’t on campus. The dining hall is one such service. However, they have been working since March to make the dining hall a safe and comfortable place for students and it would be wrong to overlook all their hard work.

According to Linda Nardella, the director of Holy Cross Dining, the dining team has been working hard over these past months to prioritize the safety of both students and staff. On what processes the various dining locations implemented to make dining a safe and comfortable experience, Nardella said, “We’ve increased our sanitation practices, especially in high-touch areas, and close Kimball twice daily for sanitizing and disinfecting; plexiglass has been installed; our staff are wearing masks and gloves; additional hand sanitizer stations have been added; increased training, including Covid-19-specific training, is mandatory for all Dining staff; and videos were created so students would know exactly how to navigate each Dining location”.

The dining staff worked with other colleges and universities as well as their food vendor, Gordon Food Service, to come up with solutions to problems caused by Covid. Dining did find it challenging to make the switch from dine-in to take-out, but was to problem-solve ways to make take-out a relatively environmentally safe experience. On this, Nardella said that, “It was a great opportunity to work with the new Director of Sustainability, Cathy Liebowitz, who helped us develop our plans for the reusable take out containers Kimball is using which help us to keep thousands of disposable take-out containers out of landfills.” Nardella also said that, “Thankfully our team has some great problem solvers and we were up for the challenge.”

While most students were able to return home in March, the Dining Services staff was considered “emergency personnel” and continued to work to provide for the many international students left on campus and the Jesuit community in Ciampi. They also worked to provide residents of Abby’s House, a non-profit organization in Worcester dedicated to giving low-income or homeless women affordable housing and support services, with several meals a week during the months when their kitchen was closed. Nardella says that, “The dedication that our staff throughout all this is something that we are truly grateful for. We are proud of our staff who have worked tirelessly since March to take care of the Holy Cross community.”

Kimball has strived to make sure that as much can remain familiar as possible through  a variety of measures including keeping their hours the same, excluding the two cleaning periods. Nardella said that they are also working to keep the menu the same as it was pre-Covid. Students can rest-assured that Kimball is still serving their chicken parm. On keeping things familiar, Nardella said, “This has been really important to us from the start. We’re still making changes (and will continue to do so) to make sure that everyone is safe and well-fed.”

Graphic Design by Hui Li ’21. Photo and Info Courtesy of HC Dining.

While it would be easy to forget about what goes on behind the scenes at our college, the dining hall is one service that we cannot take for granted for the hard work they put in to make dining a comfortable and safe experience for all involved, both on a regular basis and during a pandemic.

For more information on how they’ve dealt with Covid-19, you can go to Holy Cross Dining’s web page.

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