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Penn State Dining Outlines Fall 2020 Procedures & Plans

Penn State Dining released plans Monday detailing the changes it’ll make on campus this fall to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.

Most notably, Penn State will do away with self-serve options in all dining halls. Instead, it’ll introduce “Buffet to Go” menus that feature the same varieties typically found among each buffet. Students will still have access to all the pizza, salad, pasta, and chicken dishes they crave, most likely through prepackaged offerings.

“We also take our mission of ‘enriching the students’ residential experience’ to heart,” Penn State Dining said. “Whether you are a returning or first-time guest, you can expect a different dining experience this fall. While we implement a measured approach to opening our facilities, our focus on food quality and value remains.”

Additionally, Penn State will provide vegetarian options through “Buffet to Go.” As the semester grows nearer, the university will begin providing detailed menus for each dining commons location.

As self-serve options are phased out, Penn State will also limit indoor seating and encourage students to eat outdoors when possible. Dining halls won’t offer self-serve areas such as beverage or condiment stations, either.

“We have worked diligently to design an innovative menu that will be produced and packaged safely,” Dining said. “We are also working with our counterparts in housing and residence life on unique ways to maintain one of our Penn State Values — Community.”

However, a limited number of a la carte stations will be open and utilize mobile ordering via the Penn State Go app to promote social distancing. The Rolling Lion Food Truck will also park near Carnegie Building to give students another takeout option.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, Penn State Dining hopes to expand its operations and offer additional seating when possible.

Students who need allergies or dietary restrictions accommodated will need to call ahead at their respective dining locations. They’re encouraged to reach out prior to returning to campus to learn more about their individual situations.

Penn State Dining will also introduce a number of safety protocols within its facilities this fall, including:

  • Use of masks by all staff and guests
  • Increased cleaning of restrooms in adjacent commons spaces
  • Increased cleaning of high touch point areas using an EPA-approved disinfectant
  • Additional hand sanitizer stations to support personal hygiene before and after dining
  • Installation of Plexiglas at essential customer interaction areas
  • Scan N’ Go convenience store shopping and payment at select locations
  • Elimination of self-serve options
  • Self-swipe card payment

Finally, Penn State Dining updated its fall semester hours for each individual dining commons and location. The hours, which can be found here, are subject to change and will likely fluctuate throughout the semester.

“We believe food can be comforting in uncertain times,” Penn State Dining said. “As we navigate the fall together, we hope to bring that source of comfort to your day-to-day lives.”

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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