June 8, 2020 Hangry

Considerations for Residence Dining Hall in Relation to Social Distancing

With the current situation, your residence dining hall is one place on campus that will certainly need to switch things up. To maintain social distancing, there are plenty of factors to consider. Two important factors include dining hall set up, and safe transactions.

Residence Dining Hall Set Up

There are many things to consider when it comes to dining room setup. We’ve seen lots of examples by now, such as removing tables / chairs, limiting entrances / exits, and adding directional signage. When considering students, it may make sense to mark those tables and chairs to where they belong. Oftentimes, kids move things around, and a 4 person table becomes an 8 person table in the blink of an eye. It’s important to ensure they know where everything belongs, and that now is not the time to be shifting things around.

Consider having a one door in, one door out policy. If you currently have multiple entrances available to your dining location, maybe you don’t need to have them all accessible for the time being. This way, you can limit the number of people directly crossing paths with each other. If you can, put up signs so it’s clear which way the traffic is flowing, where kids are able to enter/exit, and which direction you’d like traffic to flow.

Visual aides such as the “stand here” floor markers are also a great idea. We’ve seen tons of them out in public, and they may seem redundant by now. But, they really do work. When you put those stickers in place, people tend to follow the recommendation and stand on them. Thus, you’re able to simplify the process and clearly set the expectations for everyone. Another consideration is accepting reservations via mobile app – something we’ve put together for our clients. Read more on that here.

Safer Transactions

Safe transactions come in two varieties – one is the food itself, while the other one is payment. When it comes to food in the residence dining hall, there seems to be much discussion on having the food pre-packaged or having the food service employees serve it. There will no longer be self serve stations such as the salad bar, at least for now. Instead, those can be repurposed to have employees doing the serving, with plexiglass protective barriers to protect both the staff and students. There may not be refills on drinks or condiments anymore; with the preference being for single serve packaged condiments and bottled beverages.

Considerations will need to go into disposable plates and utensils – this may not be necessary if you plan to hand these items out to each student, but certainly it could be an issue if you had planned to leave out stacks of plates and boxes of cutlery where they can help themselves. The idea is to reduce touch points as much as possible. Along those lines, you may also consider providing hand sanitizer near high touch areas.

Payments

Payment transactions will also need to be considered. Distancing the patron from the cashier, including plexiglass barriers, or making them self serve so there really isn’t a need for a cashier there at all. Most card processors / POS systems have plenty of wiggle room when it comes to their cords. That should make stretching out the cord and providing adequate physical distance simple. There is also the option of using contactless cards or wallet apps in order to limit the patron from touching the card processor when possible.

Another great solution is mobile ordering. Users can make their payments right through the app, with their phone. At Hangry, we’ve been working diligently with our campus partners to find even more useful solutions, going beyond mobile food ordering. Users on our platform are able to place orders for pickup or delivery, make reservations, and much more.

To learn more about our reservations module, click here. Read more social distancing related posts here. In the meantime, stay safe + healthy.

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