NMU Dining prepares for winter semester


BEING SAFE— Northern Lights Dining worker, junior Biology major, Emily Greenman is waiting to swipe students into the dining hall. Justin Van’t Hof/NW

Justin Van't Hof

Last week Wednesday, Jan 13. during a COVID-19 news conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that the ban on in-person dining will continue until Feb. 1. She maintained hope that if numbers continue to decrease that Michiganders will be able to return to dining indoors with restrictions. 

“We are working on a path to allow indoor dining with safety measures such as mask requirements, capacity limits and a curfew starting Feb. 1,” Whitmer said.

With the ban in place. on-campus restaurants such as Fieras, Temaki & Tea and Smoothie King have started the semester offering to-go only.  Even though dining halls are exempt from the ban, NMU Dining has maintained the same to-go style format for the dining halls as well until testing results are fully completed. 

“While the current order does provide an exception for colleges and university cafeterias to allow in-house dining, Northern Lights Dining will only be offering take-out meals for the initial start of the semester. Once the majority of test results have been received, we will then determine an opening date for the dining room,” Paul Schoonveld head of NMU Dining Services said. 

Schoonveld also said how the strategy they developed last semester with implementing to-go dining by utilizing the app Get Go and reducing contact from student to student by removing self serve options will make this semester’s dining experience similar to the previous one. 

“We spent Fall 2020 developing, evaluating, and then adjusting our operations to ensure the safety of our guests and staff.  We learned how to effectively and efficiently serve our students and therefore did not have to make many changes for this semester,” Schoonveld said. 

Some of those safety measures include physical barriers, limits on the number of staff allowed at each station and multiple screening points to ensure students are wearing masks and socially distancing. 

“While some of these precautions are mandatory, we have always strived to have tighter restrictions in place than what is required.  We rely on our student, temporary, and full time team members to serve our campus community and we have an obligation to keep them safe, so we ask ourselves if safety can be maintained as we explore every operational change we make,” Schoonveld said. 

Grace Shaffer, sophomore forensic biochemistry major, said that the new format of dining utilizing the Get Go app has made her feel safer and helps students who may have a busy class schedule.

“With the to-go style dining, I’m not so nervous about going down there and having to be around a bunch of people. Having the ability to take something out of the dining hall to eat should definitely stick around, especially for those with busy class schedules,” Shaffer said.   

Students can stay updated on any updates to NMU Dining by visiting their Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or their NMU website.