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U. of Georgia plans more takeout dining in fall

The University of Georgia is gearing up for increased takeout dining options with students due to return to campus this fall. The dining changes come as the university seeks to offer safe and sanitary options amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As reported by Food Management, the new approach to campus dining at UGA will involve a mix of preordering, takeout and limited dine-in options, with adjustments also being made to the university’s all-you-care-to-eat dining halls.

“Of course, we’ll have to manage people and crowds and use queueing, but much of it already was takeout,” said Bryan Varin, executive director of UGA Dining Services, in a Food Management interview. “And we already had offered the Grubhub app that allowed customers to preorder their food, then come pick it up and go.”

Some of UGA’s retail dining locations are also removing seating in order to provide more space for socially distant queuing.

The only dine-in options for students at UGA this fall will be the residential dining halls, where capacities and times will be limited. These dining halls will also restrict its service to only meal-plan holders to further limit foot traffic.

Though dining in at these locations will be offered, it won’t be encouraged. “We’ll encourage to-go meals as much as possible,” says Varin.

In order to dine-in students will be required to make a reservation through Grubhub for a seat during a designated 45-minute time window. Students would then go through a serving line to assemble their meal from the day’s menu, before finding a table in the open-seating dining area.

“At the end of that 45-minute block, anyone still there would politely be asked to leave for a transition period during which we can clean and disinfect the dining areas and reset them for the next period of reservations to come in,” says Varin.

The other two options are for takeout, either by visiting a dining hall in person and assembling a meal from the available options, or pre-ordering a meal that will be packed by dining staff for the student to pick up. Meals assembled for takeout will be packed into a reusable to-go container.

UGA has its existing Bulldawg Box program that offers a reusable takeout container option to students. Using this program, students are issued a container that is returned to the dining facility after each visit to be cleaned and sanitized.

Menus are also expected to be condensed to accommodate the new restrictions, but the university will maintain as many signature food offerings from its dining locations as possible. Students that dine in at campus dining halls will still eat off permanent ware.

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