Quarantined on campus: Christopher Newport’s food delivery service

“A learning experience” for the 2020-2021 academic year

~Evelyn Davidson, Staff Writer~

This article was written last semester before winter break. It is posted now with other backlog articles. The Captain’s Log will update this article with new information as it comes. 

This semester and last semester, CNU students begin each day by doing their daily symptom screening. For many students, the semester passed by with no major incidents and they were able to check the green “I have no symptoms” box every morning. However, this was not the case for everyone. Without the firsthand experience of being quarantined on campus, people may have heard mixed stories about how the school handled these situations and they might be curious about what the process is like, so the Captain’s Log collected some information from a small group of students on their quarantine experiences, specifically focusing on food delivery. 

Based on the responses of four different CNU students, the food delivery process seemed to be very unpredictable and varied from student to student. Meals were supposed to be delivered, during set time frames, to the quarantined student three times a day on weekdays and two times a day on the weekends, but two of the four students experienced inconsistent delivery times. One student said that there was sometimes up to an hour delay. 

A standard quarantine meal would consist of a sandwich or other regular meal with protein (frequently chicken) that one might find at the dining hall, some non-perishable foods such as chips, cookies, and a fruit cup, as well as a water bottle and juice. One student said that on three separate occasions during their quarantine they did not receive the main meal with a protein, instead they only received a package of non-perishable foods. 

Another recurring issue with the school’s food delivery seemed to be the quantity of food. Multiple students had to reach out to their case handler, the person assigned to each student’s case, in order to request a larger quantity of food. A student noted, in reference to their handler, that, “We could reach her by text or call but she would only tend to answer after a few hours, and the adjustments took my parents calling up the chain of command starting with my coordinator, along with my roommates in order to get a response.” Another person explained that after requesting more food, they were provided with an extra amount: the addition of a breakfast sandwich to their usual breakfast and an added side salad to their lunches and dinners.

Considering that both the CNU administration and the students are facing unprecedented times, It is no surprise that there were some challenges this semester. The Captain’s Log contacted Dr. Kevin Hughes, the Vice President for Student Affairs, to ask about the issues with school meal deliveries. He was asked if there will be changes for the spring semester to avoid some of the challenges faced this semester. Dr. Hughes was also asked what the school planned to do differently and what the improvements for next semester might look like.

With regards to the package of non-perishables that quarantined students receive, Dr. Hughes stated that, “I do anticipate that we’ll continue with the Snak Pak that RHA helped to provide for those students who ended up in Iso/Q [isolation/quarantine] but after meal delivery had occurred; it is designed to hold students over until the next meal delivery window.  We’ll also continue with pre-stocking the rooms used for isolation with basic foodstuffs to supplement the meals that get delivered.”

In addition, Dr. Hughes addressed how the school is preparing for the upcoming semester: “While the vast majority of our Iso/Q students reported positively on the meal experience, one of the pieces related to meals that we did come to realize over the semester that needs adjustment is the reinforcement of the verbal instructions provided to each student by our case management staff.  For instance, we indicate that meals are delivered within a window of time, not a specific time, but that may not be as clear as it should be to some of our students.  We also need students to notify their case manager as soon as possible if a meal delivery was missed, if there are additional dietary restrictions or if they need additional food.  While our case managers verbalized a lot of this information and some was on the written instruction sheet, what we found was some students in isolation/quarantine were really good about communicating back to us and others didn’t let us know for a while if something was amiss.  Putting even more in writing might remind students what to do if they need a modification.

“We’re reviewing everything from the Fall semester to determine if there are modifications that need to be made and if so, how we best make those adjustments.  We’ll look at the feedback we received from students and the staff coordinating efforts. We’ll also review the evolving guidance we get from health and government entities.  We’ll take all of that information and look at incorporating it into the experience we’re trying to cultivate on campus during a pandemic.”

This past semester was certainly a learning experience for the CNU administration, but with the first semester of the academic year under their belts and helpful feedback from students and staff, Captains should be able to look forward to smoother sailing next semester.

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