Food Services impacted by COVID


Larson Commons has been continually improving. A new menu is released every semester to provide variety and quality food. 

Kadi Terca (She/Her), Reporter

Due to COVID-19, specific eating facilities at South Dakota State University, like Extreme Pita, True Balance and These & Those Noodles, began the semester closed to the public. 

Doug Wermedal, associate president of Student Affairs, explained that a number of these restaurants were in “bad spots” and would not pass COVID-19 guidelines.

“The market area, such as True Balance and the pasta bar, did not provide speed of service and there was no way to create social distancing based on where they were located,” he said.

Wermedal explained that these restaurants will not be closed permanently, but it is hard to tell when they will be back up and running again. 

The restaurants that are located in the Union, like Weary Will’s, Chick Fil-A and Panada Express, are looking to extend their hours because students are utilizing these options more often, according to Wermedal. Additionally, they are looking to expand Larsons Commons’ hours because it is currently the number one eating facility on campus, serving around 1,300 students a day. 

Most SDSU college students have agreed that it is difficult to find places to sit during lunch hours or dinner hours. 

“It is difficult to find a spot to sit because there is the same amount of people eating, but less seating,” John Campagna, an SDSU sophomore, said.

Even though it is hard to find clean, socially distanced seating, students are impressed with the amount of cleaning that is being done.

“I am really impressed with SDSU’s cleaning staff,” Campagna said. “They do a great job of wiping down everything; I can see the sparkle on the tables.” 

Some students feel like they will not be eating at the food facilities as much, specifically because of the limited seating. However, students are remaining optimistic during the COVID-19 situation.

“I will not be eating at the Union as much because I can’t find a spot to sit and socialize with my fellow college students but at the same time, I am just happy to be back on campus,” Bo Kurtz, another sophomore, said.

Wermedal understands student frustrations involving limited seating problems. He has been in the Union during lunch hours and realized that the ballroom across from the Grubhub station has not been used to its full potential. Wermedal pointed out, 

“The Volstorff Ballroom has not been utilized. There is lots of seating already socially distanced, so I would like to see more usage of that space,” he said.

Limited seating and food options have left SDSU students frustrated but understanding at the same time. Students love that they are able to take food out of Larson’s eating facility this year.

“Due to the limited seating at Larson’s, I’m not going to wait in line for a spot to sit down, but I love how I can take food to go,” SDSU sophomore Jack Larkin said.

Larson’s to-go option pleases students because that way food is always stocked in their rooms.

“Larson’s provides me with a lot of groceries,” Larkin said.

Being able to take food to-go, most SDSU students feel like they are getting their money’s worth out of their meal plan this year.

“I think I am definitely getting my money’s worth out of my meal plan since I can take food out of Larson’s,” freshman Corwin Mohr-Eymer said. In previous years, some students felt like they were being scammed with their meal plan. They didn’t think they were getting enough food, considering what they paid for. 

Students and staff have been remaining positive and adjusting to all the new changes that are happening on campus. According to Wermedal, staff and students have adapted to the COVID-19 guidelines by using GrubHub more often and by using socially distanced seating arrangements. 

The GrubHub app has been especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most SDSU students GrubHub food and take it back to their dorm in order to avoid large crowds. 

This semester SDSU has switched over to prepackaged food, which has not made the food preparation any less challenging.

“Nothing is easier this year. Cooking for everyone’s preference is not easier,” Wermedal said.

The switch up of food this year has led some SDSU students to take charge in their own kitchens. Two roommates, Julie Fischer and Hannah Johnson, talked about how the limited food menu has inspired them to cook themselves and utilize their kitchen space. 

“We have already done a lot of cooking ourselves,” Fischer said.

Johnson added that they have also expanded their repertoire of dishes through cooking more.

 “We have made enchiladas, spaghetti and BBQ sandwiches,” she said.

Most SDSU students and staff do agree that being back on campus is worth all of the changes that are happening in the eating facilities and on campus.