Video courtesy of Madison Strunk, WCTV
The new and improved Beehive greeted students this fall with flexible meal plan options, a 24-hour convenience store and an upgraded Starbucks menu.
“The team worked so, so hard,” Shari Payne, vice president of enrollment who oversees food service facilities, said. “As you know, we were working up to the very last minute so that we could open the new Beehive project on the 24th.”
During the first week of classes, supplies at the convenience store completely sold out. Starbucks sales have increased exponentially compared to past years and students are pleased overall with the greater quality and quantity of food. Payne has regular meetings to assess products and restock items. She said her priority is meeting the needs of students.
Last year, Aladdin Dining Services presented this program to the university as their food service contract expired and was renegotiated. The new dining facility aimed to match student feedback and the vision that the university developed based on other schools’ models and facilities.
“Aladdin came back with a program that was going to meet most of the requests that students had been making,” said Payne. “We made the announcement about the dining changes in February. Just in time for COVID to hit and throw us just a little bit off our schedule, but just a little bit.”
COVID-19 forced a sense of urgency upon renovations as construction was halted in the state of Pennsylvania and campus was vacated in March. The advantages of virtual training and the hard work of those involved in the project made the debut of the new dining facility possible.
“The first lunch service, which was very chaotic, was kind of our trial run,” said Pat Bristor, dean of students. “But, it worked and figured out what we needed to do and I think it’s running a lot smoother now.”
Another challenge Payne emphasized has been meeting the COVID restrictions set by the CDC and the state of Pennsylvania. She said students may have noticed that only four chairs are placed around each table complete with signs instructing students not to move the furniture.
“The state of Pennsylvania requires that we de-densify to a certain amount, and I am not joking when I say that our facility staff went out with tape measures to try to fit as many as we could in the dining hall,” Payne said. “I know that it’s not ideal, I know nobody wants that, I know that people want to gather together to eat with their friends but remember when you are in the dining hall you’re also removing your mask when you eat. We want to make sure that we are not cited for any violations and that we keep everyone’s health and safety in mind.”
Aladdin and staff are also assessing rush hour crowds that gather in the Beehive and ways to further ease the density of students in the facility at one time.
This past week, Payne launched the first of her email series titled, “Did you know?” which will provide tips to students and clarify any confusion regarding dining changes. She also encourages student feedback.
“We always welcome any type of feedback,” Payne said. “We want you to enjoy the dining experience.”
Payne emphasized that all changes have been made based on feedback and the desire to make dining more convenient and enjoyable for students. She also shared that this is part of a long-range plan including intentions to renovate the Benedum Dining Hall and provide even more flexibility with the OneCard swipe system.
According to plan, construction will be underway in the coming weeks for the campus Chick-fil-A which is to open in the spring semester.
“We are so thankful to have such a grateful relationship with the town of Waynesburg because they have been so supportive with the things we have been doing with the Chick-fil-A,” Payne said.
She said she is excited to incorporate this facility as part of the flex-dollar system and to further meet the wants and needs of the students at Waynesburg University.