Nicole Letendre ’23
Throughout the pandemic, students on campus have been adapting with each new COVID update and regulation, trying to maintain friendships and academic success. It is no easy feat, but a constant throughout has been Kimball Dining Services, providing food to students on campus, as well as those in isolation. As a department, they have had to adapt to the constant changes of the pandemic while keeping their commitment to students in providing a wide range of meal options. I recently had the opportunity to extend questions to the Dining Services team, and I received collaborative answers from Linda Nardella, the Director of Dining Services, Neil Domina, the Assistant Director of Residential Dining, and Talia Spirito ‘ 21, Kimball Student Organizer.
Q: How has Kimball had to adjust to accommodate COVID-safety precautions during this unconventional semester?
Although Kimball and all Holy Cross Dining operations had to make adjustments to align with COVID-safety precautions this semester, according to Linda Nardella, director of Dining Services, the goal was to keep things as “normal” as possible for the students. One example of this was the salad bar. Many dining programs across the country eliminated salad bars from their dining halls. Knowing this was a staple for many Holy Cross students, Dining Services found a way to adapt the salad bar to meet COVID guidelines.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of this semester within Dining Services?
Anticipating the future! “One thing we’ve all learned this year is to expect the unexpected,” says Nardella. “We don’t always know what’s coming next, but the Dining team is great at making changes on the fly.” This could mean moving the heavy Kimball tables around to accommodate more in-person dining or converting the pasta/pizza area into a second Classics station to reduce lines on popular nights.
During this time, Dining Services has also been responsible for taking care of the students in Isolation & Quarantine. “We wanted to ensure that students in I&Q were as comfortable as possible during their stay in the hotel,” says Nardella. This meant not only providing meals but going a step beyond to create an order form that allows students to choose a daily menu tailored to their own personal tastes and dietary needs.
Q: How would you describe the spirit of student workers and Kimball Captains?
Talia Spirito ’21 Kimball Student Organizer says, “Student workers and Kimball Captains uphold some of the best qualities of Holy Cross students. For them, everything centers around the community they make on their shifts. Going into Kimball is not just work, but a chance to interact with other students and with career staff. They are hardworking and care about the work they do as much as they care about the people with whom they work. Our captains especially understand the sense of community in Kimball and they become close friends throughout their time together. There is a readiness to help and an eagerness to form bonds that characterize our student workers and Captains. They, along with our career staff and managers, help to make Kimball a welcoming and fun environment for everyone.”
Q: What is one thing you are looking forward to seeing within Dining Services, as the semester progresses, or even into the fall of 2021?
“We’re in the process now of preparing for the summer and fall. Since we don’t know for sure what the guidelines will be, we’re making a few different plans so we’ll be prepared for anything,” says Neil Domina, Assistant Director of Residential Dining. The plans are similar to the College’s color-coded system. Having an idea of what Dining Services operations might look like in Orange, Yellow or Green status allows the department to adapt quickly.
Despite the restrictions on campus, especially when in Orange, Kimball Dining Services has remained loyal to its students, working hard to constantly provide great meal options. As always, a huge thank you to all the Kimball staff who work hard each day, and thank you for these great answers and insights!