EC Eats: Riverview in a clamshell

How Riverview Café takes precautions for the pandemic

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Photo by Hailey Thorsen

As most returning students and first-year students have noticed, there have been drastic changes in the way Riverview Café serves their meals, ranging from what the food is served on to where students are allowed to eat it.

However, students are concerned these new steps may not actually be preventing the spread of COVID-19.

When heading through the doors of the Hilltop Center, students are greeted with a hand sanitizer pump and wipes to make sure their hands and high contact areas are germ-free. 

They may also notice a pattern of dots stickered on the floor spaced out six feet apart to mark where people are supposed to stand while waiting in line.

While waiting in line, students can see multiple posters hung up on the walls reminding them not to forget their clamshell or clamshell return ticket.

During a student’s first visit they will be given a clamshell containing whatever food they decided on. After the first visit, students have two options: 

They can 1) bring the used clamshell with them the next time they decide to eat, or 2) , return the clamshell when they finish eating and be given a clamshell return ticket from an employee.

Spencer Esposito, a first-year undecided student, appreciates the method of returning reusable clamshells.

“It can be very inconvenient whenever I forget my clamshell and have to walk all the way back to my room,” Esposito said. “But when you think about just how simple it is, and the direct results of it, it’s worth it.”

After returning either the clamshell or ticket, students are directed to a part of the main dining room divided up in rows by metal barriers to keep a well-organized line. Taped on the pillars and walls of the area are notices which read “absolutely, positively, one person per dot.” 

While most students agree this addition to the lines helps the prevention of further virus spread, some have a problem with how it is being enforced.

Adam Ruud, a first-year elementary education student, said the act of social distancing in the café is not being enforced enough.

“There has been a time or two where I can literally feel other people breathing down the back of my neck and I can’t move forward (or) I might be doing the same to the person in front of me,” Ruud said.

After the wait in line, students then choose the food they want and the servers (with clean gloves) place it in the clamshell. Students can then go to the drink dispensers to fill a cup with their beverage of choice.

Esposito said as soon as he receives his food, social distancing stops altogether.

“The dots kind of just go everywhere or just disappear and everyone is crowded around the sides or the soda fountains,” Esposito said. “The fact that we can actually touch the sides is something I think they (Riverview employees) should try and avoid.”

With their complete meal in hand, students walk across the empty dining area and back down the stairs through three sets of doors.

Matthew Laritson, a first-year undecided student, said he recognizes a strong correlation between when the tables and chairs were removed from the dining area and how many food spills there are on the way out of Hilltop Center.

“I understand that they had to do that, but it’s really inconvenient going through all those doors and down all those stairs,” Laritson said. “Now I have to watch for all that food on the ground.”

After leaving the building, students can find a place to sit outside or head back to their dorm rooms to enjoy their meal.

Crawford can be reached at [email protected]