New changes to the Price Dining Hall pleasantly surprise students

Emilia+Bordage+%28%E2%80%9823%29+serves+herself+food+from+the+salad+bar.

Leeann Shu

Emilia Bordage (‘23) serves herself food from the salad bar.

What is a better way to indulge yourself on a cold Monday morning than a toasted bagel topped with cream cheese? Fortunately, the bagel station at the Dining Hall, now back after a long period of dormancy due to the pandemic, can satisfy all your cravings. 

With the 2021-22 school year introducing new changes as a result of the pandemic, limited food service at the Price Dining Hall was just one of the many adjustments students, faculty, and staff had to accept. As the school year began, meals were completely pre-packaged, and seating was entirely outdoors. Many students struggled to find a table during the busy lunch hour and wished there were more food options.  

In late September, the dining hall staff added additional options like humus and pretzel packs, fruits, and a small-side salad option. These changes were influenced by the results of an all-school community survey, in which many expressed their fatigue with limited food options. Even though students were pleased with these new dining hall options, many hoped for a greater variety. 

After October break, however, Webb students were pleasantly surprised by the new additions to the dining hall. The bagel bar, noodle bar, panini bar, salad bar, and soup station have all re-opened, and now, students have a variety of options to choose from.  

“[Our dining hall team] actually wanted to open up more stations because we feel everyone was getting tired of only one item, and some of the kids did not like what we were serving at times,” said Armando Amezcua, food service director. “So, [by re-opening] more stations, we have more options. Students can choose from five or six different options, rather than just one.” 

The medical advisory board approved of this proposal before October Break, and students returned to campus just in time for these changes to come into effect.  

“[It is] the [COVID-19] testing that we are doing, we know how the community is doing on all fronts,” said Stephanie Baron, health center director. “So long as everyone is consuming food outside and they are sanitizing before serving themselves, we are good.” 

Re-opening more stations also alleviates the busy rush hour during lunch. With over 600 mouths to feed, lines can be incredibly long and overwhelming with only one station available. 

“During lunch hour, we have around 600 people coming in at once, so we want to open up as many stations as possible.” Mr. Amezcua said. 

In addition to the re-opening of more stations, students and faculty can now serve themselves which means that they can control portion sizes and only get the food they want. Once the Webb medical advisory board learned that COVID rarely spreads through surfaces, they decided to let students serve themselves without the risk of contracting COVID. Many students are excited about this new change and look forward to the prospect of returning to how Webb once was pre-pandemic. 

However, now that students can serve themselves, lines have been longer than before. In what used to be quick grab-and-go meals, the dining hall has now transitioned into a self-serve, buffet style.  

“I think the long lines are worth it, especially since we’re able to serve ourselves,” Ochuru Ochuru (‘23) said. “Plus, the lines usually only take around 5-10 minutes, so it is not too much to sacrifice in my opinion.” 

Now that most of the different stations in the dining hall have re-opened, the next step for our community to fully return to ‘normal’ is indoor seating. Although tables are moved inside the dining hall when it rains, students and faculty are currently only allowed to eat indoors during rainy weather. 

“As soon as students can eat inside, we can accommodate some of the tables inside the dining hall,” Mr. Amezcua said. “We can then open up more stations [like the Chinese station that was once open pre-pandemic] outdoors.” 

However, indoor seating may be far and away for now, and may not happen until after winter break due to the pattern of rising case rates around the end of the year.  

“After last December, it did not look good, we were reverting back, so we have to see what the vaccination rate does for this cold and flu season,” said Ms. Baron. “I think we will have a better idea after the winter.” 

While these new changes to the dining hall indicate that the Webb community is doing well to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we still must take precautionary measures to ensure our safety. Simple tasks such as sanitizing our hands and keeping our masks on may seem trivial, but they contribute significantly to keeping the school population healthy during our journey towards restoring Webb to pre-quarantine conditions.