Upper school cafeteria limits self-served food items to limit the spread of COVID-19, among other local health measures


Varsha Rammohan

The condiment bar in Fresh Mex in the auxiliary gym was closed last Friday as kitchen staff worked to implement a “reduction in self-served items in food service.”

by Mark Hu and Sabrina Zhu

The upper school has recently removed self-serve food stations to reduce extra student contact with food due to concerns over the coronavirus. 

As of March 6, the salad and fruit bar in Manzanita and Fresh Mex’s condiment station, which includes guacamole and various salsas, in the auxiliary gym now have paper bowls and trays pre-filled with food. 

As of March 9, a kitchen worker has been stationed in the gym to spoon guacamole and salsa into student trays to reduce cross contamination. Students were previously able to choose what to include in their dishes in a buffet-like style.

Desserts are also now individually wrapped in small paper bags after the administration announced on Thursday that the school will be implementing a “reduction in self-served items in food service,” which limits the number of tongs passing through the hands of students and faculty on campus.

“We wanted to take an extra step to individually wrap everything,” Adam Albers, pastry chef at the upper school, said. “For the desserts, when we make cookies, we make about a thousand, so bagging those up at three to a bag was about 300 bags just for cookies. It takes a little bit more time to put everything individually, but it’s mostly just prepping.”

Sabrina Zhu
Paper trays have replaced the previous buffet-style salad bar in order to prevent the spreading of germs.

The spread of the coronavirus has also affected nearby coffee shops, which have been offering a discount on reusable cups and mugs. Starbucks announced on March 4 that it would temporarily pause the use of personal cups in a series of precautionary steps to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

To stay as safe and healthy as possible, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing hands before, during and after eating or handling food, when caring for someone who is sick, after using the restroom, after touching animals or pets, when treating a wound and after sneezing or coughing.

According to the CDC, there are five steps to washing hands properly and removing germs: wetting hands with clean, running water, lathering hands with soap, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds (or the length of the “Happy Birthday” song), rinsing hands under clean, running water and drying them with a towel or an air-dryer. The goal of these steps is to create friction using the soap to get rid of dirt, grease and microbes.

If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer is the next best option. Although sanitizer cannot remove all germs, it can significantly reduce the number of them. The CDC advises using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, which should be written on the product’s label.