For a college that usually has more than 4,000 students, faculty, and staff, the current campus population of under 100 people shows how efforts to reduce population density have worked at Alfred State College (ASC).
The smaller number of people allows for more social distancing as the vast majority of students and faculty are now working at home. Even as the number of clients has diminished, however, dining services at ASC have chosen to grow the menu at Alfie’s on campus.
“Like all food services these days, we’ve had to drastically change operations by only offering food to go and consolidating operations based on lower demand,” said Dave Sengstock, executive director of Auxiliary Campus Enterprises and Services, Inc. (ACES). “But with only about 50 students and an equal number of staff members on campus, this gives us the opportunity to truly tailor our menu for our clientele.”
While many New York State restaurants are offering a smaller menu during this crisis, the staff at Alfie’s Eats and Treats took this opportunity to ask students what meals they missed most from the myriad of additional dining locations that usually operate across campus.
“We’ve consolidated our operations to Alfie’s where we usually feature sandwiches and salads. The ACES team has once again stepped up to make sure that we’re responsive to the needs of our students. Not only are we meeting each student’s dietary preferences such as low-fat, diet, or vegetarian, we are also adding daily hot meal specials for the food that they crave the most,” said Sengstock.
The few students who remain on the Alfred State campus asked to stay due to financial or technology hardships. Alfie’s is the one location on campus open for them to patronize. To further serve their needs, the dining staff has added convenience store items usually found at 10 Elm Fresh Market and Café or the Campus Store. Every ASC student is now located in a townhouse where they also have their own kitchen to add variety to their meals while staying at home.
Since a trip to Alfie’s is one of the few destinations for students, the stockers, cleaners, cooks, and dining staff are also taking the opportunity to chat with students about their well-being. A visit to Alfie’s is a chance to remind students about staying 6 feet apart for social distancing. The care and concern for students is evident among ACES staff. The goal is much more than merely satisfying appetites but also to fill a void from lack of human contact. Together, people are all learning how to help one another during this crisis.