Here’s what students think of dining options at Duke’s COVID-19 quarantine facilities


The quality of food in Duke’s quarantine housing has become a point of contention among students.

The University is providing food and snack options for students placed in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. People in quarantine have several places they can stay, including the Lancaster Commons Apartments and the Lodge Annex Hotel.

Robert Coffey, Executive Director of Catering Services, has facilitated a partnership with The Picnic Basket Catering to provide food for students, sourcing food from several different local locations that range from Duke Dining Hall restaurants or local chains like Chick-fil-a.

“The goal was to ensure that students in temporary housing never had to worry about food, including meeting their dietary or allergy needs,” Assistant Dean of Students David Frankel wrote in an email. -email quoting a statement from Coffey.

However, despite the range of options, some students were disappointed with the portion sizes of entrees, which were often boxes left underfilled and small portion sizes.

“[The small portions] made you snack a bit more,” sophomore Ben Perry said. “You don’t get the best macros.”

Students enjoyed an all-you-can-eat snack bar provided with their main meals.

The snack bar options were generally nutritious – probiotic waters, Greek yogurt, low calorie chip options and more. However, having to forego a full meal for a more processed alternative has left quarantined people unsatisfied.

“I had to eat really non-nutritious snacks to supplement the tiny portions they were giving us,” junior Thomas Ross said after being released from quarantine at Lancaster Commons.

Unlimited snacks weren’t always reliable, though. Ross said there was a period of time at Lancaster Commons where no water was available for students.

“They had Powerade and Vitamin Water and stuff like that,” he said. “But you know, it’s just chock full of sugar. There was simply no water.

After several hours of waiting with no suitable alternative, Ross received a resupply of water later that day.

The picnic basket has worked tirelessly to support students, especially during the overflow of students in quarantine following an initial spike in cases due to the Omicron variant.

“Their team worked every day of the year, including holidays and inclement weather, to support Duke students,” Frankel wrote on Coffey’s behalf.

Unlike Ross and Perry, some students who were in quarantine thought the food service was adequate.

“It was definitely enough because there were a lot of extras,” freshman Teddy Hur said. “You can just take multiple items. It wasn’t bad at all. »

Additional meals provided by catering staff are generally left to quarantined new arrivals who cannot order meals prior to their arrival. These meals were often also taken by people already in quarantine to increase their portion sizes or avoid paying for their food.

Hur stayed in a temporary overflow hotel for his quarantine, and he felt students had no restrictions on access to substantial entries. He was not told about meal policies and payment for his food.

Ross and Perry think Duke might be implementing alternate plans in quarantine food distribution. For example, Perry said Duke could more efficiently serve food to its quarantined students by varying portion sizes based on what the students requested.

“It’s hard, from their perspective, to figure out the right portion size,” Perry said. “The choice is to prepare the meals in a way that you can vary the portion sizes depending on the consumer or to take the second option and just give everyone in the hotel plenty of snacks.”

However, Perry sympathizes with Duke’s efforts not to inadvertently create waste by providing genuine excess food.

“[Duke] did a decent job of completing [the meals] at the end,” Perry said. “I guess they’ve found the middle ground.”

James Cruikshank

James Cruikshank is a freshman Trinity and news service reporter.


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