Post COVID at Locke’s: Making the Slow Return

By, Adrianne Hutto & Lauren Raziano, Asst. Production Editor & Social Media Editor

Students and staff are back in the Locke’s Loft dining hall ready to enjoy full dine-in service after two semesters of only grab-and-go options.

However, this is not without its restrictions, as non-vaccinated students are not permitted to dine in for meals. Initially, this was not being regulated by the administration as students settled back into campus life. Now, there is a new system in place which alerts dining staff of students’ vaccination status.

Some students have noticed changes in the way the dining hall is set up this year. For example, there has been a replacement of the pasta station with a self-serve pasta bar, and the carving station has been replaced with cereal options for students.

Pete McHugh, director of media relations and strategic communication, emailed with The Quadrangle to get more information regarding the plan for the dining hall this semester. McHugh forwarded the responses of Jerez Giles, marketing manager with Manhattan College Dining Services, and Kenneth Waldhof, Business Manager at Manhattan College. 

MuHugh also wrote that Edward Gomez is the College’s new general manager of Dining Services.

“We partner with administration at Manhattan College as well as the Dining Committee to come up with new, healthy and innovative dining options,”  Giles wrote.

Some students may have noticed that there is a new nutritionist for the dining hall. Unlike last year’s dietician, Kayla Kirschner, the current nutritionist, is excited to talk to students and figure out more inclusive dietary options.

“Kayla Kirschner, RDN, CDN is our new Registered Dietitian and she is available 5 days a week via email and 1-on-1 consultations; we encourage students to reach out to her, especially those with special dietary needs. She can be reached at diningservices@,” Giles wrote.

In regards to monitoring vaccinated and non-vaccinated students, MC has had to get stricter with their mandating as New York State requires all residences who are unvaccinated to avoid eating or doing any unmasked activities indoors. Dining services was previously lenient about this policy but has since been working to better regulate this policy.

“Dining Services is working with Manhattan College to manage access to the dining hall using the College’s green pass system and NYC mandates,” Waldhof wrote.

Despite these regulations, dining services have been working to meet the needs and desires of students on campus.

“Based on the dish’s popularity and student demand, we transformed Jasper Eats to feature self-serve waffles all day with fresh toppings. Additionally, each station at Manhattan College features weekly special dishes to offer variety for our dining community,” Giles wrote.

The Quadrangle spoke with junior engineering major, John DiVanna, regarding the changes Locke’s has undergone through the past few years.

“I think Locke’s variety of dining options has definitely expanded throughout my time here. Two years ago there was a limited selection of vegan options, now there are many different vegan meals provided everyday,” DiVanna said.

However, despite these improvements there is a desire to have more times during the day in which the dining hall is open. Most residential students get the majority of their meals from the dining hall and may have restrictions about when they can go depending on classes or work schedules.

“I think if Locke’s was open for more hours during the day and open later it would be very convenient. Locke’s is one of the only dining options on campus included in a residents meal plan so when it is closed in the middle of the day you can’t use your dining included in your meal plan,” DiVanna said.

Furthermore, Locke’s offers the True Balance station, which is dedicated to gluten free options. However, sophomore Izzy McGovern has reported that True Balance and other stations do not provide accurate labels.

“I have celiac disease, and I think Locke’s does the bare minimum for people with dietary needs,” McGovern told The Quadrangle. “Locke’s has not made enough of an effort to keep the true balance station free from the common allergens and it’s very upsetting. At the true balance station, they started serving regular pasta containing gluten. That station is supposed to be dedicated to serving foods without gluten, nuts, fish and a list of other common allergens.” 

While McGovern had a negative pasta experience at True Balance,  there is an option to get made-to-order dishes at this station. 

Giles wrote, “Please note that you can get a made-to-order allergen-free pasta dish from the True Balance station.”

This year students are able to fully dine-in at Locke’s, with a grab-and-go option avaliable to unvaccinated students. @MC_DINING/COURTESY

 McGovern has also noticed a change in her access to gluten-free items available to her and other students with dietary restrictions.

“In the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, Locke’s had a large fridge that had tons of gluten free breads, muffins, cookies, rolls, and brownies,” McGovern said. “By the beginning of second semester, they removed the fridge completely and had no gluten free products anywhere. Later on I found out that they had moved the food to a different location, and they only had gluten free bread and bagels.”

McGovern expressed that students are put at risk when Locke’s does not appropriately label items and is seeking reassurance that the True Balance station does not cross contaminate with glutens and allergens.

“The station stopped serving gluten free waffles and began serving regular pancakes and regular pasta without a label saying that they contained gluten. Locke’s needs to dedicate the true balance section to not using any of the common allergens, including gluten.” McGovern said. “It is very unsafe to prepare meals in shared pots and pans because of crossed contamination. Someone with an allergy or necessary dietary restriction could be in danger of somehow ingesting whatever they cannot consume.”

Another student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, reached out to The Quadrangle regarding his concern with the food quality.

“I don’t approve of what’s going on with the food station on campus because it’s not right and fair to not just commuters, but to the students that live here and call this place their home.” The anonymous student wrote to The Quadrangle in an Instagram direct message.

The anonymous student wrote, “Pre-COVID life on campus was a bit better with not having to wear masks, being able to converse more freely and what not. It’s not much different from now except you need to wear a mask. Kelly [Commons] now has less options and more congestion due to the way it’s set up, and Lockes food quality is horrible and in my opinion is unservable.”

According to Giles, “Manhattan College Dining Services passed our New York City health inspection on Tuesday, September 7.”

As the menu and COVID-19 restrictions are always updating, The Quadrangle will follow up later in the semester.