Hoover Dining Hall Opens For Breakfast Hours

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Empty Hoover Hall, open only for take-out due to COVID-19 safety procedures. Photo By Ian S. Brundige

On Oct. 7, the Hoover Dining Hall started offering time slots for in-person breakfast on weekdays. The other meals remain carry-out only. 

Students will be able to dine-in on weekdays during three time slots: 7 a.m. – 7:45 a.m., 8 a.m. – 8:45 a.m., and 9 a.m. – 9:45 a.m., according to an email sent out by the COVID-19 Operations Team. The time in between groups will be used to clean the dining spaces, so individuals will be asked to leave at the end of the time slot. Students are advised to eat in small groups to minimize contact and help tracing in the event that a COVID-19 breakout occurs. The new changes also allow staff members to get carry-out meals.

Decisions about safety procedures for the dining hall are decided by the university and Bon Appetit, the company responsible for providing food service in areas such as Hoover Dining Hall, the C Store and online options for students.

Travis Linneweber, the Assistant Vice President for Finance and Administration at DePauw, oversees “auxiliary relationships” for the university, such as its relationship with Bon Appetit. Auxiliary relationships are DePauw’s work with outside companies to provide services on campus. Bon Appetit is responsible for DePauw’s food service for students. John Hecko, the general manager of Bon Appetit at DePauw, said his job is “to oversee all aspects of dining,” provided by the company. Linneweber noted that  he and Hecko “interface frequently… almost on a daily basis.” 

“The first priority is health and safety for our students and our employees, as well as our community,” said Linneweber. They aim to create “the best dining experience possible for students” without compromising safety. To that end, Linneweber explained, they also work with the health and safety team. “We’re looking at how the other mitigation on campus is going, [what] the testing experience looks like–the volume of tests, the volume of positives–and we’re trying to open things up gradually and to do it in a way that’s measured, so that if we do do something that’s a misstep, we can quickly backtrack,” Linneweber said. 

Hecko said, “there’s not a universal way of dealing with this,” and explained that Bon Appetit locations at other schools have had to make their own adjustments–no two universities are operating exactly the same way. He describes their work as a “constant conversation,” to find “the safest route” to open up. They are also forming a “food committee,” from the student body to better determine and meet students’ dining needs. 

There are a number of staff-run stations inside Hoover that students can choose from, such as Beyond, which is the grill; Fulfill and Satisfied, which provide comfort foods; Oasis, which provides vegan, vegetarian, halal and gluten free options; and a salad bar. Hecko said another consideration for the university moving forward is providing even more options for students. 

DePauw also provides a number of other options for students, such as the C Store in the Union Building and Tiger Market and Skedaddle online. Skedaddle provides meal pick-up and delivery options for students in isolation and quarantine, while Tiger Market allows any on campus students to order items and choose a time to pick up their order. The online options are available https://depauw.catertrax.com/.

“Everybody’s ultimate goal,” Hecko said, “is to achieve this sense of the way things used to be…to be able to have students come and dine and have ample choice.” He said determining the best way to continue working toward that will depend on students’ needs and the general safety requirements. As an example, he said, “if breakfast goes off without a hitch,” they may be able to open dine-in times for other meals. 

Hecko and Linneweber said that services at the dining hall could become more restricted again if there is an increase of COVID-19 cases among students on campus or among Bon Appetit workers and stressed the importance of remaining flexible and adjusting to situations as they arise. Currently, masks and social distancing are required at all locations, and Hecko advised that students be attentive to the guidelines and use the pawprint markers on the floor.

 Students should look for future updates in the SALutations emails rather than separate emails from covid19@depauw.edu