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HomeNewsCampusCOVID-19 takes a bite out of DC's food services

COVID-19 takes a bite out of DC’s food services

Food services have resumed at Durham College (DC) and Ontario Tech University as part of the reopening of on-campus learning this semester.

But business is not back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Bobby Morrison, 20, in DC’s Broadcasting – Radio and Contemporary Media program, says food services have changed.

DC student Robert Morrison says food services on campus are not busy.
DC student Robert Morrison says food services on campus are not busy. Photo credit: Photo supplied by Robert Morrison

“I remember before when I went to the campus you could go anywhere and find food to buy or to eat and like you could sit anywhere you want to and eat and stuff and now I can’t even name which Tim Hortons are open,” says Morrison.

Morrison has noticed a huge decrease in the number of students in the Market Place Cafeteria since the start of the fall semester.

“I remember before that though that place would be jumping all day long right until 5 p.m. and then everyone would kind of go home, so I think it’s because of COVID, there’s no one there anymore,” says Morrison.

There are fewer food outlets open on campus.

“At Durham College, we have opened our Market Place café, Tim Hortons kiosks, and Whitby Café with limited options. Self-serve locations remain closed due to COVID-19 precautions,” says Brandon Cebulak, general manager at Chartwells, a division of Compass Group Canada, which runs food services on campus.

“Our commitment at Chartwells Canada is to provide students with, healthy, delicious, and safe dining options while on campus. With the reopening of schools this past September, our focus has been just that.”

Market Place Cafeteria is the main place for students to eat on the Durham College campus.
Market Place Cafeteria is the main place for students to eat on the Durham College campus. Photo credit: Kayla Jackson

According to Cebulak, Chartwells Canada must follow Ontario’s framework for reopening. They have changed the seating area at the Market Place Cafeteria to follow a two-metre distance between tables and enforce a mandatory mask rule for all employees and customers, with the exception of when someone is eating or drinking at a table.

COVID-19 has had an impact on the whole hospitality industry.

“Our team has always had a focus on strong health and safety protocols and training prior to the pandemic. We have been able to quickly build upon that framework as we incorporate new and updated COVID-19 safety standards.

“Additionally, as a whole – the hospitality industry continues to manage supply chain, product, and labour shortages. While our team here at Durham College is staffed and ready, we have all learned to be nimble and adapt to changes as they present themselves,” Cebulak says.

According to the DC website, in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in more than 30 full-time food service staff being laid off. According to Cebulak, Compass Group Canada is actively working to bring back the people who have lost their jobs.

“We are pleased to share that we have returned… associates to active roles and continue to do so as we see more schools and businesses reopen” says Cebulak.