Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

The tables at Risley Dining were empty after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo limited restaurants and bars to take-out and delivery.

March 18, 2020

Cornell Dining Ends Dine-In Service

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With classes suspended, social distancing in place and a slew of recently released New York State regulations in place, Cornell Dining is adapting to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in dining halls.

Since Tuesday, all Ithaca campus dining facilities will be take-out only, with no seating available. This is in accordance with new regulations from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), who said that restaurants and bars will close and be take-out and delivery only at a press conference on March 16. This take-out only rule will last until at least April 6.

Long lines were common in many Cornell Dining eateries during peak hours last week –– the end of self-service slowed down food pickup.

“Cornell Dining’s ability to act really quickly is a good sign and something I am appreciative of, but the amount of staffing is the potential bottleneck causing the lines,” said Austin Kick ’22. “If you have every station needing people, you need more people than when it was self-service.”

But as campus emptied out, these lines subsided.

Self-service has been eliminated from all Cornell Dining eateries since March 17, according to the Cornell Dining website. All food is served by staff members, and all single serving items are individually wrapped.

An increasing number of eateries are closing entirely, including Straight from the Market, Libe Cafe, the Atrium Cafe, Carol’s Cafe, Green Dragon, Jansen’s Market and McCormick’s at Moakley House. Eateries at Cornell Tech, including the Cafe and the Parliament, are also offering to-go food, but dining areas have shuttered.

Students still have access to gluten-free dining facilities, as Risley remains open. However, 104! West, Cornell’s Kosher dining hall, is closed until March 23, creating difficulties for students who keep kosher and are remaining on campus.

“Today I woke up to a message that 104! West was closed due to lack of staff and that there is now to-go Kosher food from Becker house and North Star dining hall,” Elliot Meyers ’22 wrote in a Facebook message.

In a time of the recent public health crisis, sustainability practices previously implemented by Cornell via reusable products have been paused.

According to the Cornell Dining website, disposable plates, cups and utensils have replaced reusable ones –– people are not allowed to reuse cups even within the dining hall.

Others have mixed feelings about this change.

“It sucks that transitioning to disposable products is something that we have to do but I think it’s more important to maintain some semblance of cleanliness,” said Evelyn Kennedy Jaffe ’22. “It makes me wonder if sustainability concerns will continue to be scrapped in crisis.”

Hand sanitizer is now available at every eatery, and serving counters and tables have been wiped down more frequently. Tables were spaced farther apart from each other to facilitate social distancing, before the dine-in option ended altogether.

According to the Cornell Dining website, frequently touched areas such as door handles, light switches and tables are being cleaned more frequently using special disinfecting wipes and spray products. Cornell Dining workers are using  Environmental Protection Agency-recommended disinfectants.

The Cornell Food Pantry, located on 109 McGraw Place, provides food and personal care items to Cornell undergraduate and graduate students, staff and faculty. According to its website, the Cornell Food Pantry remains open despite the University’s transition to virtual classes.