Kent State adapts new dining options in light of COVID-19

As students and administrators continue to prepare for the fall semester, changes to on campus dining are inevitably changing as well. Due to COVID-19, on campus dining will be limited to Eastway, the Design Innovation Hub and Rosie’s Diner.

Prentice Dining Hall and Munchies Market will be closed for the fall semester to create more space for student engagement, following the Flashes Safe Seven guidelines. The Patio in the Student Center will also be closing, but its future use is still being determined. Grazer’s will also be leaving Kent State permanently.

Incoming freshman Alison Schulte said that while it is not ideal, she can see the university’s view of needing to decrease dining space.

“I understand that this situation is not easy for any college to accommodate,” Schulte said. “Although, I think the gluten-free dining hall being closed is quite unnecessary and limits more students. Any student can eat gluten-free so they should have left it open and closed a regular [dining hall].”

In open dining halls there will be frequent sanitation and floor markers for social distancing. All dining service employees will be required to wear a mask, as well as anyone who is not consuming any food or beverages.

All locations will still be accepting cash except Rosie’s, Simon Cafe, Summit Street Smoothie Shop and Eastway Market. If a location is at full seating capacity, visitors will be given the option to wait or use a to-go box.

Prentice Cafe closing raises the question of “where do the gluten-free students eat?” The university said there will be gluten-free stations in both Eastway and the Design Innovation Hub. A new “chicken concept” called Hippie Chicks will be located in the hub of the student center, offering chicken tenders and a variety of sauces

“I’m honestly really disappointed and upset,” sophomore public relations major Morgan Cummings said. “I have no idea what to expect from the new dining hall in the Innovation Hub. Also, since the gluten-free variety of Prentice is closed, I think a lot of students who need gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian options won’t have a big enough array of choices at the other dining halls.”

Closing dining locations has also left numerous students and staff members out of jobs. Senior accounting major Carlos Diaz has been employed at Munchies Market since August of 2019 but was only given a 10 day notice of his unemployment in March.   

“I know a lot of the students, I know their orders, I know how much they really like Munchies,” Diaz said.

Cummings said that while she is purchasing a meal plan for the fall semester, she does not believe it is worth it. She is required to purchase a meal plan due to her sophomore standing, but can only choose between the three most expensive ones.

“I do not believe that the meal plan is worth it,” Cummings said. “It’s the same price as it was when we had all of the options last year, but even with half of that being closed, [Kent] did not adjust the price.”