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What You Need to Know in Fall 2021: Dining Services

In-Person, Anytime Dining Returns With New Chef-Driven Dishes

By Karen Shih ’09

Student gets food at dining hall

Emily Farnham serves herself salad at South Campus Dining Hall as part of the return to "anytime dining" across all three dining halls, though COVID-19 safety protocols like masking and hand sanitizer at all entrances remain in place. In addition, nine cafes, four convenience shops and two food courts are open across campus.

Photo by John T. Consoli

After a complicated year of take-out boxes, limited visits and fewer meal options, Dining Services at the University of Maryland is reopening its dining rooms so hungry Terps can once again sit down with friends for a sandwich or stir-fry.

“We are very excited about the campus returning to near full capacity,” said Bart Hipple, assistant director of marketing and communications for Dining Services. “We are hospitality people and we like having our guests eat with us.”

Whether you’re a freshman or sophomore eating in a dining hall for the first time or a senior looking forward to getting a lazy brunch over the weekend, here’s what you need to know about dining on campus this school year:

Anytime Dining Is Back
Students can visit any of the three dining halls—South Campus Dining Hall, The Diner and 251 North—anytime they are open and choose anything they want. The return to “anytime dining” means takeout is no longer available.

“We are committed to sustainability and keeping program costs reasonable,” said Hipple, explaining that takeout was only implemented last year because of COVID-19 safety protocols. “Dining in allows us to provide unlimited access.”

COVID Safety Protocols Remain
All Dining Services staffers and guests are required to wear masks when they are not sitting down and actively eating, following Prince George’s County guidelines. Each dining hall has hand sanitizer at the entrance, and all students are asked to use it before they enter. In addition, gloves are available for any students who wish to use them. While some self-service options like the salad bar are back, Dining Services staff members will serve diners at more stations, and all serving utensils will be changed more frequently to ensure cleanliness and safety.

“We will meet or exceed any protocols put in place by the university, county or state,” said Hipple.

Cafes and Food Courts Are Open
In addition to the dining halls, nine cafes, four convenience shops and two food courts, as well as Mulligan’s Grill and Pub at the golf course, are open. A few smaller cafes remain closed, but may be opened as the school year goes on.

Purple Zone Goes Mainstream
Last year, Dining Services introduced Purple Zones at South Campus Dining Hall and 251 North, which feature food free of the eight most common allergens. The zones have expanded options this year, making it easier for students to simply grab appropriate meals, rather than request them.

“Everybody wants to be mainstream,” said Hipple. “You want to be able to go in and eat comfortably and safely with your peers, and not have anyone notice there’s any difference at all. That’s how we’re supporting those efforts.”

Chefs Show Off
From a chorizo, black bean, chili-fried egg and smoked gouda breakfast sandwich to Taiwanese braised pork noodles, tandoori chicken with roasted Indian street corn to a butternut risotto with leeks and spinach, Dining Services chefs are getting a chance to show off their signature dishes.

“We now have a team of experienced chefs in each dining hall, who can be more creative and proactive in generating recipes and menus for their own locations,” said Hipple.

In addition, chefs will host monthly events to showcase sustainable dishes. As the first university to sign up for the Cool Food Pledge, UMD in 2019 joined organizations around the world in a commitment to collectively reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2030.

“Chefs will set up sampling stations and talk to students about great flavors and how the dish works with health and sustainability,” Hipple said.

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