The University of Southern Mississippi is making alterations to its dining services by introducing touchless payments in campus dining. The payment changes come in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will join other measures, including socially distant seating, and changes to how food is prepared at all university dining venues.
According to an official university release, each of the new measures will support university, local, state, and federal guidelines. Where applicable, previous self-service and buffet style dining will be replaced by food served by dining personnel. Additionally, all Eagle Dining employees will undergo health and temperature screenings prior to their shifts, and will be required to wear face coverings, gloves, and wash hands at least every 20 minutes.
Cleaning and sanitation are also being revamped, with all food production and dining areas be cleaned more frequently. Hand sanitation stations will be provided for guests throughout all food-service locations.
To assist students in maintaining proper social distance, seating capacity will be adjusted to ensure at least six feet between tables, with no more than six chairs per table. Signage will also be placed in all dining locations to help guide the flow of foot traffic.
In anticipation of the decreased availability of tables at most locations, Eagle Dining is also placing an increased focus on mobile food ordering through GrubHub. Dining officials are recommending that students and other guests download the GrubHub App and set up their accounts even before the semester begins so they are able to benefit from the service right away.
There will also be an increased availability of prepackaged and grab-and-go options to help offset the reduced seating.
As for payment, Southern Miss’ on-campus dining locations have implemented a “no cash” operation. Accepted methods of payment will now include the student ID card loaded with a meal plan or declining balance dollars, as well as Visa, MasterCard, Amex via swipe or chip, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. All credit card machines will also be repositioned to be guest facing and will no longer require a PIN.
For students who may need to self-isolate in temporary housing on-campus, Eagle Dining will ensure that nutritious meals are prepared and delivered to the appropriate residence hall for distribution by designated personnel.
Southern Miss has compiled further information regarding meal plans and dining services at its “Flight Path: Fall 2020” return to campus website.