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Keeping the Campus Fed

By Cody Kitaura/Dateline on October 20, 2020 in University

Quick Summary

  • The Coffee House is open for delivery on campus, via GrubHub, and takeout
  • 2 dining commons have indoor seating for residential meal plan holders, and Scrubs Café has new menu items
  • The ASUCD Pantry is distributing Student Dining Boxes this month
  • With coronavirus precautions limiting workers in indoor spaces, workers and volunteers are doing extra duty

Food options on campus are expanding, both for quick bites to eat and for people experiencing food insecurity.

At the Coffee House, student employees have adapted to a new way of serving customers: on-campus deliveries ordered through GrubHub app. Walk-in customers also are welcome, but there is no indoor dining. Order your takeout at a register, then wait in the dining room (which has been emptied of tables and chairs) while staying at least 6 feet away from other customers.

“I’ve never done deliveries before,” said Julianna Chavez, a senior majoring in neurobiology, physiology and behavior. “It’s kind of fun. ... I get to see different parts of campus I haven’t seen in a while, like visiting the dorms, which I haven’t seen since my first year.”

She said burritos and pho are popular orders coming in from residence halls, on-campus apartments, offices and lab buildings.

Not only does she deliver, Chavez also helps oversee the preparation of the orders. When they're ready, she takes off in one of the CoHo’s electric Polaris GEM cars. She said it’s been smooth sailing getting around the mostly quiet campus, because there are few bicycles or pedestrians competing for space.

Deliveries are contact-free: She leaves the food at the door, then calls the customer to advise that their order has arrived. She sanitizes her hands often and even leaves sanitizer wipes with the food.

Swirlz inside the CoHo.
Swirlz is among the areas of the Coffee House that are open and serving customers. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Inside the CoHo, in order to maintain physical distancing, there are fewer employees at each station, which can mean a higher workload when things are busy.

“It’s a challenge when we get orders back to back,” she said. Still, the staff is keeping up with both walk-in and app-based customers.

Chavez previously worked as a supervisor at the Coffee House satellite operations, the CoHo South Café and BioBrew, which are both closed.

“This new delivery position offered me a new job and allowed me to still earn money during this pandemic,” she said.

More food options on campus

Burger with bacon and a side of french fries.
The Scrubs Burger — which includes a half-pound patty, bacon, dijon aioli and cheese — is now available at Scrubs Café. (Jeremiah Noel/UC Davis)

The Segundo and Tercero dining commons, which had been serving take-out meals only, reopened Monday (Oct. 19) for indoor dining. Only students with residential meal plans are allowed to eat inside, and, under public health guidelines, capacity is limited to 100 students at a time.

Scrubs Café, also operated by Student Housing and Dining Services, last week added several items to its menu, which is to-go only. They include the Scrubs Burger, a half-pound Harris Ranch patty with cheese, bacon, Dijon aioli and arugula on a toasted brioche bun; Nashville Chicken Sandwich; and Beyond Burger.

New Pantry programs

Two men hold box of food
Pantry director Ryan Choi, left, a senior majoring in psychology, and Paul Jennings, vice president of Daylight Foods, display a Student Dining Box. (Courtesy)

The ASUCD Pantry is offering weekly “build-a-bag” pickups for food-insecure students. Volunteers load grocery bags with the items that students select. Previously, The Pantry had been setting out bags of food on the Memorial Union South Patio and the Quad, for students to pick up.

Also new from The Pantry: Student Dining Boxes from a vendor, Daylight Foods, which received federal coronavirus relief funding to provide the boxes every Friday in October. Student Housing and Dining Services assisted with the delivery of pallets of food to The Pantry — and students are receiving boxes filled with potatoes, eggs, cheese, turkey sausage, milk and more, 37 pounds of food in all.

More than 250 students have requested boxes; The Pantry distributed 90 last week and will double that number this week, Pantry director Ryan Choi said.

“This is something we know we can get out to students now, so we can really ramp up,” Choi said, adding he is hopeful Daylight Foods can obtain another grant to continue the program.

In the meantime, each Pantry volunteer is doing the job of five people because of coronavirus restrictions on how many staff can be inside the distribution center at a time, Choi said. They are aiming to serve 800 students a week by the end of the quarter, which is down considerably from 800 students a day before the pandemic.

“Our limit is based on safety,” said Choi, adding that the volunteers have responded well to the challenge. “They’ve found it very much enjoyable to step up to the plate.”

He said the best way to support The Pantry at this time isn’t by volunteering — he has a waiting list of 40 potential volunteers — it’s through financial support. The Pantry works directly with vendors to purchase food at steep discounts, so it can purchase five times more than a person on a regular trip to the grocery store, Choi said.

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