Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Meal hall program going well for isolating StFX residence students

January 13th, 2021
Morrison Hall

Anyone passing by StFX around meal time over the past week or so may have noticed a line of six-feet apart, mask-wearing, students lining up around Morrison Hall. It’s all part of a new process to help support students who are completing their mandatory 14-day self-isolation in residence.  

Each day of their quarantine, volunteer supervisors take the students from their residence house over to the meal hall, make sure they’re social distancing while in line, and that they go directly back to their rooms. 

“Overall, I’d call it a success. Everyone is doing a great job,” says Bob Hale, Director of Ancillary Services. “They’re keeping six feet apart, they’re wearing masks, and the staff are protected. Sodexo staff are pleased. The students are courteous and obliging.”

Unlike the fall semester when StFX delivered meals to the students isolating in residence, this term the university set up the supervised program so that students can walk over to Morrison Hall from their residence and pick up three meals a day, with breakfast provided from 8-9 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and supper from 4-7 p.m. During supper, students are also able to take treat bags with them with snack items for later.

Once the meals are picked up, the students are escorted back to their rooms. 

Meal times are staggered so that members of each residence come at set times, with the exception of breakfast  when, due to low numbers of interested students, everyone goes over at once. 

StFX staff members Carla Gillis and Randy Peters have volunteered as supervisors, and they say it’s been going well. 

“My experience has been that the students are respecting the time schedule for leaving and getting to meal hall. They are respecting the request to go back to their dorm room directly. They have been prompt in being ready to leave and have been following the requirements for masks and social distancing. They are following the same requirement for keeping their masks on and social distancing while in the dining hall,” Ms. Gillis says.   

Mr. Peters echoes these comments. “The students have been exceptional with mask compliance. The staggered meal times have reduced the time students have had to line up outside and all have been very responsible with social distancing,” he says. 

“The food has been good and students seem reasonably pleased considering they are self isolating.” 

Mr. Hale says the new process was set up to give the students a better food experience. 

“This way, they’re getting more choice, they’re picking up the meals when they’re hot, and if they don’t want the meal (some students live in self-contained apartments and don’t always choose to go for every meal), they don’t have to come, so we’re able to have less food waste.”

The walk also gives the isolating students some outdoor time. 

In all, about 375 students are participating on a regular basis. 

The students provide a swipe from their meal card when they enter meal hall, but the university isn’t charging for the meals. The information is instead used for tracing purposes, and the meals go back on their cards.

The meal program will run until the self-isolation period ends on Jan. 19. Those students from New Brunswick, who started their isolation later, will have their meals delivered directly to them after the 19th until they complete their isolation. 

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