When students entered the Everybody’s Kitchen Dining Hall on Monday morning, the cashier counted the number of people in line to decide how many could be let in.
Only five students could stay in the line at the same time, and they all had to exit through the backdoor.
While in line, students ordered food, which the staff members put into takeaway boxes. Each student was only allowed to fill one lunch box per entry, but they were welcomed to come back if they needed more.
This system is the new reality for USC’s dining halls during the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of the virus, the university on Monday moved all remaining classes online and continued to urge students to stay away from campus, if possible.
For those who remain, however, USC continues to use alternative methods of getting food to the students who need it, such as reducing the number of active dining halls to one: Everybody’s Kitchen (EVK).
"I think it makes sense, given that every dine-in restaurant has been shut," said Luke Bogatez, an exchange student from Australia.
On Sunday night, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that all bars, dine-in restaurants, entertainment venues and fitness centers in Los Angeles would close to protect citizens and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
USC, however, began taking action before the executive order. Initially, students could visit any of the three available dining halls on campus, but could only be served their food by staff members instead of taking their own portions. Jello and pudding packets replaced pastries and ice cream as dessert options.
Then, on March 14, EVK became the only dining hall available for those staying on campus.
The next morning, EVK required students to sit separately, following the university’s social distancing guidelines. Only one person could sit at a two-person table, while at larger tables, students had to either sit diagonally from each other or have an open seat between them.
At the time, USC Hospitality issued a statement to Annenberg Media, saying that they would continue to abide by the ever-changing guidelines established by the university in response to COVID-19.
Now, however, students can only get their food in passing from EVK before returning to their dorms.
While USC has stood from other schools by allowing students to remain on campus, some students, expressed their concern for dining options.
“It's the one, you could say, more centric [on campus]. So I think it was a good choice,” said freshman Juan Pablo Diaz. “[But] with the whole take-away thing, I think it limits the options for food.”
Since USC made the final decision to move the rest of this semester online, further improvements and additional resources for students who stay on campus may be in the future. Yet the system in place still has skeptics who are concerned about greater levels of awareness surrounding the pandemic.
“Sometimes I’m just wondering if this is all just formalism, because students can still eat with each other,” said Jerry Li, a freshman international student from China. “Different people have different levels of awareness. I think it’s a good step for the university to do. I just hope soon we’ll also have the same level of awareness on this [coronavirus] issue."
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that USC moved all classes to an online format on Tuesday. This was incorrect - it was Monday.