Flik adjusts lunch options


Claire Goldberg and Hanna Hornfeld

All food and drinks will be free this September to limit crowding around the cashier — one of the many changes to school policy implemented to ensure students’ and faculty members’ safety while eating on campus, Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly wrote in an email. 

The school’s food service company, FLIK, has added two new alternatives to the cafeteria due to the school’s closed-campus policy, Head of Upper Division (UD) Dr. Jessica Levenstein said.

To prevent contamination, all food — both hot and cold — will be pre-packaged to encourage students to “grab and go,” Kelly wrote. Students will also receive individual kits with disposable cutlery to limit shared utensils. 

The new dining options consist of a food truck on Tibbett Avenue and tents on Fisher Hall Patio and next to Friedman Hall. At the food truck, students will have access to daily options of noodles and rice, as well as sushi on Tuesdays, Head of FLIK Staff Brenda Cohn said. Both tents will have barbecue stations, where food will be made on the spot and then packaged in individual containers. 

The new options should help students spread out around campus instead of crowding a single area, Levenstein said. 

The Café in Lutnick Hall will not be open in September, Kelly wrote in an email. “What nobody anticipated when the Café initially opened was how popular it would be,” he wrote. “Now is not the time to have long lines anywhere on campus.” The administration will revisit opening the Café in October, he wrote. 

To further decrease crowding, there will be no bake sales or breakfast this year, according to the Student Guidelines in Response to COVID-19.

The school is also discouraging students from bringing lunch from home. “We are not set up for the storing of lunches nor do we have the facilities for the cleaning of personal utensils and storage containers,” Kelly wrote. However, the school will make exceptions for students with allergies or those who cannot find suitable options at school.

FLIK employees will be mandated to wear face coverings and gloves, Cohn said. They will also undergo training for the proper use of personal protective equipment, the safety and sanitation protocols, and the new style of food service. Kitchen areas will be disinfected at least once a day, and kitchen equipment will be disinfected multiple times a day, according to the Horace Mann School Plan to Reopen in the Fall. 

Before eating lunch, students will have to wash their hands at one of the new sanitizing stations, Nurse DeAnna Cooper said. These stations will be located outside of the cafeteria and at any location students may eat. 

In the cafeteria, students will be guided through the main student servery by signs intended to control the flow of traffic and maintain social distancing, Cohn said. In the cove, where the salad and sandwich bars are usually located, students will have access to the salad bar and a coffee and dessert station. The sandwich station has been moved to the inside of the cafeteria.

To ensure that students remain socially distanced while they eat in the cafeteria, the number of chairs per table will be reduced, and chairs in all eating areas will be separated by GuardXPro barriers. Students will also be encouraged to de-mask and eat in one of the 20 tents on Alumni Field and next to Spence Cottage, which will also have GuardXPro barriers, Kelly wrote. 

Dalia Pustilnik (11) is worried that the school will not be able to prevent groups from forming in eating spaces. “For a lot of people, this is their first time seeing their friends in months,” she said. “Food is inherently social, so it is inevitable that people are going to want to be together during their meals.”

Normally, Jake Federman (12) loves spending his frees socializing and eating with his friends in large groups. “We pack more chairs into a single table than can possibly be imagined,” he said. However, given the circumstances, Federman plans on eating in smaller groups and expects that most students will do the same.

Eshan Mehere (10) said eating outdoors may inhibit his ability to do work during lunch. “I usually do my homework while eating in the library, and I definitely don’t think that I will be able to work half as well outside,” he said.  

Because students can’t eat lunch in class this year, the school is focusing on giving students lunch block frees more than usual, Dean of Class of 2022 Dr. Glenn Wallach wrote in an email. However, due to double lab periods in science classes, some students still do not have frees on certain days. As a result, the Science Department is shortening all lab periods from 90 to 75 minutes to give students ample time to eat lunch, UD Science Department Chair Lisa Rosenblum said. 

Because bringing food from faculty and students’ homes is prohibited, all snacks served during break will come from the FLIK staff. “I know we can’t still decorate cookies and have that crowd of kids frosting things together in the library, but we could still give each of them individually wrapped [FLIK] cookies,” UD Library Department Chair Caroline Bartels said. The library will serve these snacks in a tent outside, she said.

Bartels is confident that, despite the policy changes, students will still be able to enjoy traditions like coffee on Fridays and snacks during break. “I would like to keep life as normal as we can,” she said. “We’re definitely going to have to figure it out as we go, but I’m hopeful that it will work and I’m ready to go all in.”