Pacific University caterer Bon Appétit normally has about 30 people on shift daily between the kitchen and front of house, according to Executive Chef Derek Webb. Today, he says, they have seven—three chefs cooking meals and four sanitizing the front of house and giving those meals to students. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bon Appétit’s food service has changed enormously.
“We just have had to adapt as quickly as possible,” Bon Appétit General Manager Ethan Davidsohn said. “It feels like a rug was pulled right out from under you.” Students on meal plans would previously receive meals through buffet service during predesignated meal times. Now, students pick up their meals in milk crates at specific times Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The crates contain microwavable meals, bottled drinks, snacks, salads, soups, and a menu itinerary, according to on-campus Pacific sophomore Kevin Crowell. Students return their numbered crates during pickup and replace them with new ones to repeat the process, Crowell said.
On the first day of pickup, Bon Appétit made 71 crates split between meat options and vegetarian options, according to Ethan Davidsohn. Bon Appétit was planning on demand remaining constant for the rest of the semester, Davidsohn said. They ordered a normal amount of snacks for the rest of the year, which have become abundant with the smaller number of students on campus. Students who don’t eat their extra snacks can donate them to Boxer Food Share, according to Davidsohn, who added that students have donated enough to the program to fill multiple milk crates
Menu options in the program are constantly evolving around food allergies and repetition of food, Davidsohn said, adding that the program stopped giving out so much soup and changed breakfast options after students gave feedback. “People were maybe getting sick of cereal and oatmeal,” he said.
Because of the change in delivery and demand, Bon Appétit has no data on demand during Lū’au, Commencement, or baseball season, Webb said. “There’s lots of stuff we’ll have to do for the very first time next year,” he said.
Davidsohn said Bon Appétit is working on plans for Fall 2020 in case a socially distant system is once again required, but has nothing to announce at this time.
“Getting back to a service in the UC that will continue to put health and safety [first is] in the front of our minds,” said Webb. “If something like this happens again, we have a plan.”