Changes in RIT dining options promote convenience, safety
Changes are in place at 21 locations on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus that will serve thousands of breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners to students, faculty, and staff members returning to campus.
Online ordering, cashless checkouts, reduced occupancies, outdoor and spaced-out seating, and increased cleaning protocols are all new features offered by RIT Dining in response to COVID-19 precautions.
“These changes are the result of many dedicated, talented, and passionate individuals in RIT Dining who came up with the best solutions using New York state’s guidelines for our new and returning students, faculty, and staff to offer them diverse, nutritious, and convenient options while focusing on everyone’s safety,” said Kory Samuels, executive director for RIT Dining.
Among the most noticeable changes are the protective shields installed at serving locations and registers, and the new arrangement of furniture in dining locations to promote physical distancing. In addition, signs for foot traffic patterns are posted in many areas. Face masks will be worn by all employees and customers except when eating, and several hand sanitizer stations will be available, with enhanced cleaning and hygiene protocols being incorporated.
Technological changes have also been made. An online ordering system is available that allows advance ordering including subs, pizza, and entrees at 10 dining locations. Customers will then pick up their orders in a dedicated area. Currently only credit cards are accepted, but meal exchanges, Dining Dollars, and Tiger Bucks will be accepted in the near future. This not only is more convenient for customers, it will also decrease the time people will be waiting for their food to be prepared and pay for their meals and allow for contactless payments.
In addition, The College Grind will have a self-serve ordering kiosk to help alleviate wait times and allow for contactless payments.
And a new feature on the campus maps website now enables people to see how busy dining locations on campus are to help avoid busy times. Developed by RIT’s Information and Technology Services, a layer has been added that will monitor density of dining locations by reporting the number of Wi-Fi signals being used at any given time. Pie charts will show whether an area is quiet or busy. All dining locations will be limited to no more than 50 percent maximum occupancy.
No identities are tracked. The data is aggregated and anonymized and refreshes every couple of minutes.
And a new website, Tiger Spend, is available to check dining account balances, review transaction history, add Tiger Bucks or Dining Dollars, and allow guests to deposit funds.
Students are also getting more flexibility in their Tiger meal plans. There is no longer a requirement to have a set number of meals from Gracie’s. All meals within the Tiger plan can be used in any combination of meals at Gracie’s or with Meal Exchange at other dining locations on campus for up to $9.50 a meal.
Also new this year, 1,775 micro-fridges—a combination refrigerator, freezer, and microwave—were added to residence halls and the RIT Inn, so students can purchase meals to store, then heat, in their rooms at their convenience to eliminate the number of trips needed to dining locations. Grab-and-go meals such as composed salads, sandwiches, pasta, and Asian cuisine will be available. Those with food allergies and dietary restrictions can still be accommodated.
And to help existing dining locations become less crowded, outdoor seating is being added in select locations, and additional venues where food may be purchased are being evaluated. Hours and locations can be found on the RIT Dining website.