2020 Dining Report

As with almost every other aspect of everyday life, dining has been disrupted by COVID-19, creating additional challenges during my first semester as chairperson of the committee. My goal for the semester was to navigate through the unprecedented circumstances and focus on future-looking initiatives as permitted. I am proud to announce that the Dining Committee exceeded my expectations for the Fall 2020 semester.

  Our main challenge this semester was shortened dining hours due to the pandemic. When the changes were announced, we wrote a timely statement highlighting the importance of accessible dining hours and worked closely with University representatives to introduce additional hours for the Spring 2021 semester.

  Even with the added challenges of the Fall 2020 semester, we were able to focus energy on creating a long-awaited Instagram page to conduct surveys, connect with constituents, and promote events. Over the past four months, we gained almost 600 followers. Our first survey on the page, which was about dining location preferences, received over 250 responses, which helped us plan out the aforementioned adjusted dining hours. Our second survey about Marketplace food preferences helped us communicate and decide on rotating, consistent, and customizable stations, which we hope to roll out as COVID-related protocols permit. Using the survey data to guide our decisions, we found a COVID-friendly way to bring back the dearly missed pasta station and salad bar and added new cuisines to the rotating station, including Southeast Asian, Greek, Indian, and more.

The most significant success of the committee this semester has been the creation of a seating area for students without meal plans. Over the summer, we initiated conversation with University and Aramark representatives about creating a shared seating area for students with and without meal plans, which I was told has been discussed for over 20 years and not successfully implemented— until the Fall 2020 semester, that is! Our goal was to elevate the Fordham community and minimize the separation between commuter and resident students. The space, located by the Marketplace entrance, allows students to bring meals and join their peers who have swiped and chosen a meal from the Marketplace. In November 2020, this initiative was fully rolled out, and over the semesters to come, I hope it becomes a space where students can connect and share meaningful experiences and conversations over food!

As we have adjusted to the challenges COVID-19 brought our way, we are eager to share the new and exciting initiatives we have planned for next semester!

Maya Bentovim