New school format causes the lunch model to shift

With all the safety procedures put in place at Malvern, students who look to purchase lunch on campus are faced with a new experience.

Matt Hess, Managing Editor

Mr. Tom Gray, Director of Dining Services, had to quickly adapt to changes in the lunch process. Lunches were shifted from the Dining Hall to student’s “home bases,” determined by grade level and separated in different buildings.

“Feeding everyone in those homebases was decided the second or third week in September. I was hoping we’d be able to feed everybody in the dining hall, but it’s definitely not possible,” he said.

Ms. Linda Bogan, Assistant to the Director of Dining Services, is experiencing the new format first hand, helping to distribute the lunches to students.

“Everything is boxed, so we have to box everything up. I’m more on the cashier side where I ring everybody up. We have it delivered. My home base is in Stewart Hall, so I ring up the Seniors and the Middle School,” Bogan said. 

Pre-packing lunches and delivering them in different home bases has established new problems noticed by the staff. Waste has seen an increase with the new style due to the extra safety precautions in place to combat the pandemic. Luckily, Gray is noticing less and less each day.

“As the days go on, we’re getting closer and closer to getting the right amount of lunches for each of the 4 areas,” Gray said. “Usually, if we don’t use [the food] up on that day, we can use it up the next day. It’s a little bit more difficult because we don’t have the option of giving choices.”

The quick change in the lunch model caused the staff to have to step back in certain areas where they usually place more attention. Gray says that they are hoping to improve certain aspects of the lunch experience in the coming weeks.

“We want to increase the amount of choices that we are making. We’ve got one day where we’re offering two choices and one of them is a quick grab bag. Somebody who doesn’t want the full sandwich and everything and just wants a quick grab back maybe at a lower cost can take that,” he said.

The staff also makes sure they can follow through with their plans in an efficient and quick pace when students are buying lunch. They kept this in mind when thinking about warm food, which is also a priority in future goals.

“What we’d like to move forward is hot lunches. Hopefully we can come up with some hot lunches that we can wrap,” Bogan said.

The staff understands that this is not the ideal way students want to buy and eat lunch, however, they are very happy with how the students are responding to the changes. 

“The students have been great about it,” Gray said. “They’ve responded well. They’ve been polite about everything. They’ve been organized and nice about everything. We really can’t ask for more.”

The pandemic has impacted many aspects of life at Malvern, but the Dining Hall staff will not stop them from continuing to provide meals for the Malvern student and faculty.

“I’m just glad the kids are back,” Bogan said. “We want to get everybody back in here and try and get a new normal. We’re here and we want to keep everybody safe and deliver delicious nutritious meals and hopefully we can get back to our old normal soon. We just want everybody to feel safe.”