NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - It’s lunch time. Normally hundreds of students would be filing into the East College Cafeteria on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University. Now there are so few of them that standing in a line six feet apart from one another is an easy rule to follow.
They are among the 41 students and staff still living in the dorms on an empty campus, according to Carrie Charlie, the SFA director of auxiliary services.
“Our students who we are serving right now are students in emergency situations that didn’t have another place to go,” said Charlie.
Even though dorms are closed, the students have demonstrated a significant need to remain at SFA. Their food plans are honored, but like at all restaurants, the service is different.
“The way we are accommodating students is by making it a complete pickup process rather than coming into the dining hall and getting the food or choosing it,” explained John Anderson, ARAMARK resident district manager. “We are actually doing a box pickup package to go.”
Staff members received certified training for takeout with a focus on COVID-19 precautions.
“Just taking the best of what COVID-19 is happening to us,” said Robert Carpenter, a SFA graduate student and hall director. “The way we have here is very effective and I’m so glad to be able to still eat lunch, and dinner and have my breakfast to go.”
In addition, ARAMARK and the Student Government Association have teamed up to provide food boxes for off-campus students experiencing food insecurities.
“Our food pantry has been open by appointment only but it’s starting to deplete,” said Charlie.
"I think the food we got in today is probably for 125, 150 boxes. They do boxes. There is a two week supply of food," said Anderson.
It may not be home cooking, but the meals provide the comfort students say they need during unprecedented times.