Last updated: 5/21/2020 @ 11:40 a.m. EST

Collegiate Dining's Response to COVID-19

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Given the rapidly changing environment surrounding COVID-19, NACUFS has gathered content shared via the Discussion List (DL) and complied them under subject headings. Continue to send items to the DL or email us.

This page will be updated on a continual basis. The following will guide NACUFS:

  1. NACUFS will review submissions to the Discussion List ("DL") and may post those related to COVID-19 on this webpage.
  2. All content posted to the webpage will be anonymous (unless you provide specific college or university content on letterhead or other branded materials being used by your institution).
  3. All college and university branded materials will be converted to PDF for posting on the webpage.
  4. NACUFS reserves the right to edit and/or modify the content for the purpose of clarity, grammar, and punctuation.
Please note that all information presented below was gathered after 4/27/20. For all previous information related to COVID-19 and collegiate dining, please reference our archived resource guide.

On-Campus Events

Preliminary plans for some of the typical fall semester events with social distancing measures, but these are subject to change; weddings scheduled but waiting to see what the future holds.



Charged staff to come up with ways to re-introduce ourselves to the campus when students return.

Other options/considerations for catering include:

  • Offer packages for smaller gathering events with disposable items that can be dropped and go.


Touchless Environments
(see also Self Service)

  • Planning to go cashless in most of our venues, but not completely as that tends to alienate some of the population.
  • Contact-free swipes at entry points and go cashless/online ordering and payment for retail meal equivalents, etc.
  • Our students use a contactless reader for their cards and simply hold it up after "swiping" to show the cashier their picture. 
  • We are currently in the process of installing external magnetic stripe readers at the registers in all of our locations so the customers can swipe their own campus cards. Our credit card machines accept contactless payment through Google Pay, etc. If customers don’t use this option we’ll let them insert/remove their card and take their receipt.

Plexi Glass Protection

This topic is starting to develop.

The following vendors may be able to provide some assistance:
  • Staples
  • Home Depot

Take-Home Meals

This topic is starting to be developed.

We started a program called “Take us Home” approximately a year ago.  Our goal was to provide family-style meals that faculty/staff and students could take and reheat without having to prepare anything themselves. We started with four fully composed meals we thought were going to be a huge hit.  

  • Once the majority of students left campus, we implemented a trial program geared to faculty/staff which allowed them to pre-order a dinner for four that they picked up from one of our locations.


Reservation Type Systems

  • Using a ticketing system and allow a certain number to reserve a time with only so many per 15-minute time period. By allowing them to reserve a time, they can decide what works with their schedule. (We’re looking at how well this will work with a full residential population.)
  • We have a Reservation Dining option two nights a week where residents can reserve a table in one of our dining centers and have a meal served to them (  The reservation form was created in-house, and we have considered using this form for our AYCTE dining centers this Fall.

Systems being explored or used by institutions:

Self Service
(see also Touchless Environments) 

Prior to COVID-19, we updated our AYCTE facility with new breathe guards so we could adjust from served to self-serve. The manufacturer is Versa Guard.

Our beverage machines are all touch. We will shut down that area and create a smaller area with a few touch-less machines and limit choices.

We have the student swipe themselves in and then pick up a plastic bag that we have preloaded with a disposable flatware pack, napkin, salt and pepper- we prepare them gloved. 

For their food they have choices of fresh hot or cold food items that are served- they tell us what they want- we put it into a to-go container, set it on the pickup platform and they are on their way- and they can put the items in their bag.

Other options/considerations for self-service include:

  • Single-sided salad bar which can be manned by an attendant.
  • Have a staff member man the beverage station.
  • Bottles and drinks that are in containers are used. Hot beverages are prepared and served.
  • All self-service items will be served or discontinued.
  • Provide the student with their own silverware that they are responsible for washing and reusing.
  • Hand them the prepackaged flatware on the food pick up area.
  • If you don't want to use disposables, you'll need to pre-wrap individual sets.
  • Look at how hospitals do it for isolation feedings – disposables, on the go entrees and sides, prewrapped utensils, half-pint milks and juices, portion-controlled condiments, canned or bottled beverages.



Campus is budgeting 2,300 out of available 7,000 beds in residential dining plus only 25% of students on campus based on the driving factor of accessibility of classroom space, local area off campus housing concerns and distancing within housing.

We do not see any ability to have AYCTE; our model of service is looking at pick up and go as the first option, with very limited seating available until the County tells us otherwise. 

We are going to diligently enforce CDC guidelines within our walls (including potential lines to get into buildings) as risk mitigation more than social concerns.

We are working with our county for reopening and they may be required that we break students into small cohorts who are able to dine or be together.  Groups would be tied to how they are housed and could be as small as 3 people.   Reservation systems were one of the solutions for managing taking turns between doing takeout or dine in. 

Other options include:

  • Looking at these options – social distancing sit-downs/meal pickup and meal pickup only.
  • Reconfigured rooms to show tables with six feet distancing.
  • Adding an additional take-out site or two.
  • Reducing seating and/or offer smaller seating modules, High Boys, standing counters; all to reduce large gathering.
  • Utilize outdoor seating.
  • Exploring a reservation type program.
  • Takeout will be encouraged for retail and AYCTE operations by using an app.
  • Assigning dining times at lunch when the need for speed of service is a priority, no seating at that time.
  • Dinner limiting seating as mentioned using a color code chair system to ensure that we sanitize between seatings.
  • Breakfast - either get it with dinner service or set it up in the dorms.
  • Converting out cafes for only off-campus students using a remote ordering app.
  • Leveraging our in-house vending.
  • Exploring assigned seating or reserved seating.



  • Adding portable handwash stations and sanitizer stations.
  • Face masks will be adopted as a part of the uniform.
  • No outside bags are allowed to enter the dining facility to reduce contamination.
  • We also will have sanitizing stations throughout the seating areas.


6 Feet Rule

There are two (2) definitions: 6’ from your shoulder or 6’ from the center of your body. We are using 6’ from your shoulder which makes the social distancing yield closer to 20% seating in the dining room (limitations on numbers who can be seated at tables depending on size) and greater distance in queuing.  We are anticipating that students will move chairs and we will have to maintain a presence in seating areas. We also will have sanitizing stations throughout the seating areas.

Using 13' circles to signify a person and we have about 10% seating capacity.  We're no longer considering in-house dining an option.

Our guidelines are no more than 6 people per table; 6 feet between tables, and at least 50% reduction in overall seating. We did a CAD drawing to place the tables 6 feet apart and had not achieved a 50% reduction in seating, so we continued to reduce the number of tables to achieve the 50% goal.

We will be using the 6 feet from the shoulder between guests as the goal is to compensate for the sneeze blast radius. Once we have done the layout, we will use the total number of seats available as the capacity for the dining room or seating section. This should provide us with two measures to try and control the students' behavior.  

We looked at our dining room, the tables we currently have and possible configurations. In one dining room, we reconfigured tables pushing two together to make squares that will seat four (4) within the guidelines. Booths for one (1) person and 10-foot rounds I think we have four (4).  Having room diagrams already available that we use for catering was a big help in giving us somewhere to start. 


  • Increased signage on sanitation practices as well as communicating what we are doing to protect our students and employees.
  • Broader use of technology to support new initiatives.
  • Visual cues, vinyl’s, signage, tele-board messaging, text Ripple.

Employee Compensation:

Student Employee

For student employees who are no longer on campus, we are paying them through the end of the semester (and they are all away from campus). We calculated an average of hours worked for the last three pay periods before spring break and then paid that amount each week.

Paying them through the remainder of the semester.

Our campus immediately offered 128 hours of “Emergency Leave” to all employees, including students.  However, the actual amount is prorated by average weekly hours worked, so most of the students received approx. 40% of that 128 hours (if they averaged 15 hours of work per week this year prior to our closure).

Full-Time Hourly Employee

We have provided them with meaningful until May 1.  After May 1, they are “seasonally” laid off as all of our culinary employees are considered seasonal. 



Other Topics of Discussion

How is your institution addressing seating capacity for students who petition to stay on campus? Email us and let us know!

Virtual Town Halls

COVID-19 Resource Page (archived)

NACUFS' COVID-19 Polls & Results

Helpful External Resources