After “pudding” up with Covid, the Dining Hall buffet returns

After a year and a half, the Dining Hall is back. The salad bar, sandwich bar, hot bar, panini press, soup pots, and cereal bar are open to the community once again, with no restrictions. This means no more plexiglass or grab-n-go food boxes.

Though many things are back to normal, and the Dining Hall is allowed to operate and provide the service it has in past years, there are still protocols in place for COVID-19. In order for the buffet to fully function, the Dining Hall staff changes the serving utensils every 15 minutes on the line. Every table has a double-sided card, reading “clean” and “dirty,” that alerts the Dining Hall staff if someone has sat there so that they are able to clean for the next group. The staff are still using the peroxide multi-surface cleaner from Ecolab that is used to stop the spread of the contagious Norovirus.

Snacks, condiments, and coffee station items are individually wrapped for the safety of the community. No visitors are allowed to eat in the Dining Hall. To maintain the cleanliness of the community, there are also hand sanitation stations located throughout the cafeteria.  

The comeback of the buffet allows students to “stylize their food,” said Peter Kourafalos, the Director of Dining Services, and there are more opportunities to use the machines and amenities that the Dining Hall offers to make something “completely random.” Mr. Kourafalos noted that his favorite part of this year’s food service is the return of student input and ideas for menus. It allows him to create a menu that is “new and fresh but also keeps it healthy.” For example, the deconstructed bowl concepts were inspired by restaurants like Sweetgreen and Chipotle.   

C. Weber ’23

One of the most stable traditions of the Dining Hall over the past two years is Mr. Kourafalos’s pun-ridden meal announcement emails, which get people excited for their Dining Hall experience. Some recent ones have included “What’s a chicken’s favorite subject in school? Egg-o-nomics!” and “If pigs learned to fly … would the price of bacon skyrocket?”

In addition to china plates and silverware, there are paper goods available to encourage the community to take their food outside or to a different location to eat. This gives people the option to be distanced from others when unmasked. 

Ariella Kaye ’24 came to Dana when the Dining Hall was providing grab-n-go food boxes. This year, she likes “the variety of food and that she can choose and make her own food.” Anna Steiger ’23 and Brooklynn Phillips ’25 agree that having the opportunity to sit with other classmates has been a positive this year. “During COVID we had to sit alone, not near our friends,” Steiger recalled. She remembered it as a challenge because socializing during lunch was previously a break from stress for her.

So far the reopening of the Dining Hall has been nothing but great according to students across several grades. Mr. Kourafalos praised his staff, saying,  “Everyone went above and beyond, nobody complained, because we’re all in it together.”

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