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Dishing it out

Bagged lunches and brunch on a Monday? Along with the wind and the rain, tropical storm Sandy brought changes in Yale Dining operations. The residential college dining halls made adjustments to ensure that students would be fed in the face of Sandy’s wrath. Many staff members took on hectic schedules and extended work hours to accomodate these preparations.

The staff was most concerned about students without underground access to a dining hall. Yale Dining prepared bagged meals for freshmen, Swing Space residents, and others for whom it would be impossible to get to a dining hall in the expected extreme conditions.

In response to a last-minute change in Sandy’s forecast, dining halls ordered non-perishable goods for the take-home meals. “The storm was originally supposed to hit Tuesday, but because it was changed to Monday, we had to move all of our food orders an entire day earlier,” Cathy Van Dyke, director of residential dining, said. Management then contacted the vendors and made the bagged lunches for stranded students.

Students were not the only ones who had to worry about getting to and from the dining halls. Members of the dining staff were also faced with challenging commutes. Residential colleges opened spare rooms on Sunday and Monday to help staff members avoid dangerous travels in the storm.

Despite the accommodations, the kitchens were noticeably understaffed. “We all stayed late after dinner to make the bagged lunches and then worked for 11 hours the next two days,” said Shanae Dixon, who works in the Jonathan Edwards dining hall.

The dining halls also altered their cleaning process to maximize efficiency. “Even though it costs more, we switched to compostable dishware in case there weren’t enough workers to wash the dishes,” said Van Dyke.

Upon reflection, the staff considered their efforts a success, as did students. “The students were very thankful and appreciative,” said Sally Gray, who works in the Pierson College dining hall. And although the storm did not cause as much damage as predicted, Van Dyke said that the effort was not a wasted one.

“As long as students are fed and happy, then sunshine is an added bonus,” she said. “We do the best we can,” she said.