Yellow caution tape lined the seating areas of the Market Café from the outset of San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order, which requires restaurants to close their dine-in seating areas and only offer take-out meals.
Bon Appétit, the campus’s sole food service vendor, adhered to the order by taping off its dining area and putting chairs on top of its tables. With a majority of students already moved out of on-campus housing and all classes being conducted remotely, Bon Appétit has scaled down its operation and furloughed a majority of its employees.
The Market Café, known as the caf, now operates on a limited basis, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Only the grill and the classics stations are serving hot food options. The grab-and-go area remains open.
Torry Brouillard-Bruce, senior director of Student Housing and Residential Education (SHaRE), said in an email that, as of April 2, 163 students remain on campus and 85 are still on Flexi meal plans.
One of those 85 students is junior media studies major Maguire Mount, who still lives in Toler Hall. Mount says that the limited options make things difficult. “You end up eating the same thing almost every day,” he said, adding that recently, the classics station is only serving grill specials for lunch.
With the caf ending operations at 3 p.m. daily, evenings present a challenge for students. For dinner, Mount has resorted to eating cereal, instant ramen, or relying on app-based delivery services such as DoorDash. “I normally eat lunch really late at like 3-3:30ish and dinner really late too, so I’ve had to shift my schedule so I can eat earlier.”
When asked what students who remain on the Flexi meal plan do for dinner, Brouillard-Bruce said, “Early on we noticed students were getting two meals during the lunch period so they had food for later. Some are even grabbing three meals at a time to limit the time in the University Center. Bon Appetit has done some work to provide more grab and go options that can easily be heated up later.”
In addition to changes in service, Crystal Wong, Bon Appétit’s resident district manager, said in an email that, like most other educational institutions the company serves, the caf is now using a smaller staff to operate. “Bon Appétit has had to place most of our employees at USF, hourly and salaried, on temporary unpaid leave,” she said.
Wong added that Bon Appétit is working with furloughed employees to maintain their health benefits and to apply for unemployment claims. She hopes to bring furloughed staff members back as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.