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Comfort food

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two young students wearing cloth masks prepare sack lunches for students in quarantine
McKenna Greco, left, and Johanna Peel, right, making lunch for students.

It’s not quite room service.

But this fall, hundreds of meals were delivered each day by Utah State University’s Dining Services staff to the doors of on-campus students in isolation after potential and confirmed exposures to COVID-19.

At its peak, the team prepared meals for four dorms under quarantine in the early days of the Logan campus re-opening. Providing meals directly to students in isolation insured they got the nourishment they needed without having to leave their apartments to shop and cook.

Life and work in the COVID-19 era shifted overnight for the catering wing. What used to be a staple at events went from “1,000 to zero in a couple of days,” says Alan Andersen, executive director. The group has evolved into a COVID-19 care force. In October, the team was feeding, on average, 220 students three meals a day.

“Everything I’ve learned in 30 years of dining services and how to feed people has changed,” says Andersen. “Our market has been totally upended.”

The number of people coming to campus has changed as well as how they are consuming food. Takeout is up while some eateries on campuses have closed. The uncertainty is stressful and something Andersen notices wearing on his team.

“I think too often as a society we forget the impact on employees,” he says. “We too often minimize the impact on employees and how it impacts their world. They still have the same concerns of their health, for their family’s health, and they still have to show up.”

And they are. Three times a day.

By Kristen Munson
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  • Lori Durand January 17, 2021

    thank you for taking care of our kids during quarantine! It is reassuring as a parent to not have to worry as much.