Sarah Carter ‘24
Since opening its doors to students once again late this past January, Kimball Main has been at the center of many students’ on-campus experiences. Although the facility operates quite dissimilarly from its pre-COVID days, the dining hall still serves its same essential purpose – providing tasty meals to students of the College of the Holy Cross for all hours of the day and allowing for social opportunities and interactions between students and faculty alike. At the dining hall, one can still sit down for a bite to eat with friends at the newly reassembled, social distancing-approved dining tables while sampling some of the many entrees offered each day, granting students some semblance of the blissful normality they once knew before leaving campus last spring.
The benefits of in-person dining apply to more than just the student population, however. Staff members at Kimball Main and Lower Kimball also reap the rewards of a reopened dining hall; student and Kimball Captain David Schneider ‘22 can attest to that. In a statement, he communicated to The Spire that, “We are all very excited to be back on campus. We love working with the career staff members and serving our peers. Being here now is very exciting.” Schneider, who worked in the dish room during previous semesters, now takes post at the beverage and salad bars in Kimball Main where he works directly with students; he works in Lower Kimball as well.
As a Kimball Captain working at the forefront of the College’s dining operations, Schneider has had to remain in congruence with all of Kimball’s recently introduced safety and social distancing protocols – the ones that we are most familiar with being the new reservation and student check-in systems. Of the reservation system, which allows students to hold a table in the main dining room for themselves at a designated time, Schneider says, “[the system] has been very effective thus far. It adequately limits the number of students in the dining hall to a safe amount.” To make a reservation, students can select a date and time for dining-in on HC Clear from the list of available times. Complying with and making use of this feature is strongly advised for those who wish to dine in-person and is conducive to maintaining more manageable crowds at Kimball.
Schneider regards the student check-in system at Kimball as less-than-stellar, by contrast. As many students can agree, the system is often only occasionally effective at swiftly moving students into the main hall where they can select their meals. At times, the line can come to a halt as students try unsuccessfully to swipe their cards and gain passage into the main dining area – a problem that is only compounded by the new plexiglass walls separating students and faculty and the communication barriers they impose. To remedy the situation, Schneider suggests that students should swipe for HC Clear at an earlier place in the line, with those who pass promptly advancing to the meal swipe location at the main desk. He says this will possibly increase the rate at which the line moves. However, it is worth noting that none of the overcrowding taking place in the dining hall is at the fault of the dining staff, who are already understaffed. According to Schneider, “There are far fewer student workers than during previous years, resulting in many shifts having several openings.”
Regardless of this, the dining staff at Holy Cross are doing their utmost to satisfactorily serve every student that enters the dining hall every day. Schneider indicates that, while it can be cumbersome to accommodate large sums of students all at once, “The staff at Kimball is very supportive and everyone is always offering to help out when needed.” He recognizes that the dining staff only want to continue to assist and improve the experiences of everyone here on campus and look forward to doing so for the remainder of the spring semester. Schneider ended his interview by sharing that he still feels just as connected to the student population as during previous years, even with all of the changes introduced at Kimball and throughout dining locations across campus. This connection is something he hopes to continue to nurture for the remainder of his time here on campus as a Kimball Captain and college student.