This fall, the campus dining experience will include additional efforts alongside an already robust regimen of sanitization and food safety measures.
After completing orientation, registering for classes and getting settled into their residence halls, many college students have at least one more question: where do I eat?
At Texas Tech University, students, faculty and staff can choose a dining experience from more than 50 options at 21 different locations offered through Hospitality Services. This fall, that experience will include additional efforts alongside an already robust regimen of sanitization and food safety measures. The efforts are part of the Texas Tech Commitment, the university's pledge to create a safe campus environment during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"Food safety and the cleanliness of our on-campus dining locations have been, and always will be, a priority of Hospitality Services," said Kirk Rodriguez, managing director of Hospitality Services. "The department continues to enhance and increase the frequency of cleaning procedures along with increasing the availability of sanitizing stations throughout the dining operations.
"All Hospitality Services locations have undergone a deep and extensive sanitation process of all production, serving areas and high-traffic areas. Hospitality Services continues to monitor and review cleaning protocols with its entire staff."
How to eat on campus
New and returning students will still get a full campus dining experience, with just a few changes to how they order and pay for their food and how they use the dining facilities. Hospitality Services has implemented a hybrid version of dining that includes limited seating where available and the option to purchase food for pick up through mobile ordering.
Rodriguez said that because handling cash has been identified as a potential contact hazard for COVID-19, some locations will no longer accept cash for purchases. Red Raiders are strongly encouraged to use Grubhub (available on the App Store or Google Play) to order and pay for food. Employees and commuter students also are encouraged to purchase a dining plan for use at Hospitality Services locations. All Hospitality Services locations also accept Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
"We are identifying dining locations where little to no cash is received, and in those operations, cash will not be accepted," Rodriguez said. "All on-campus dining plans are accepted for food purchased at all Hospitality Services locations. The department continues to transition all menus to Grubhub, and we also will increase the use of order kiosks for those who wish to order at the location or cannot use the app."
A 6-foot, physical-distancing policy will be in place, wherever feasible, with floor guides serving as reminders throughout dining locations. Plexiglas barriers also are being installed to ensure the safety of all who enter the dining locations.
"Hospitality Services continues to follow all university guidelines to ensure the safety of all Red Raiders eating on campus," Rodriguez said. "When dining with Hospitality Services, we ask guests to practice social distancing, wear proper face masks when ordering food and follow the recommendations for eating with a mask. In order to create and maintain a safe space in our dining locations, traffic flow into locations will be controlled and the number of guests allowed in at one time will be closely monitored."
In areas where dining room seating is available, the area will be configured to promote social distancing in conjunction with the state and university capacity guidelines. Rodriguez said face masks or appropriate face coverings must be worn at all times while inside dining facilities and may only be removed when seated and eating.
"To safely eat at campus dining locations, Red Raiders should follow a few simple steps," he added. "First, enter the dining location while wearing a mask and keep the mask on while you order and purchase food. Sit at a table while practicing social distancing. Once you are seated, you can take your mask off and enjoy your meal. Then, when you are done eating, put your mask back on until you exit the area or building."
Protecting staff and student workers
In addition to those who eat at campus dining locations, sanitization and safety measures also protect the staff, student workers and vendors who keep these locations running.
"All Hospitality Services employees will be provided – and are required to wear – an approved mask when on duty," Rodriguez said. "We continue to work with vendor and distributor partners to ensure they also are following established guidelines for screening and safety as their staff work to supply dining locations with products this fall. As the situation continues to evolve, Hospitality Services will continue to implement changes and support for keeping the Red Raider community safe."
Hospitality Services has implemented employee-screening measures to assess the signs and symptoms of infection. Employees are required to complete temperature checks before entering department locations. Employees also are being scheduled for shifts in established teams. This means if one employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, the entire crew can be temporarily removed from shift rotation to minimize exposure to other employees and guests.
The department also has increased the frequency of employee handwashing and changing of gloves between tasks. Employees will continue to wear gloves as required to do their jobs, like food preparation and handling, and by all employees who clean public areas.
An established cleaning schedule will require each location to close briefly throughout the day during service hours to ensure the sanitation of all production, serving and high-traffic areas. These cleaning times will be posted at all dining locations and online as the beginning of the semester nears.
As with all plans during the ongoing pandemic, cleaning times, dining locations availability and serving hours are subject to change in order to maintain the health and safety of the campus community. Information about services and changes will continue to be shared on the department's Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages.
"At Hospitality Services, we are Red Raiders feeding Red Raiders," Rodriguez said. "Hospitality Services wants to create the best possible dining experience for the campus community during these changing times to help ensure that Red Raiders also can achieve their academic goals. The implementation and support of these measures will be critical to ensure the safety of all Red Raiders while dining on campus."
For the latest updates, visit the Hospitality Services website.
For more information about Texas Tech's efforts to ensure the health and safety of those on campus, visit the Texas Tech Commitment website.