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Brockport Auxiliary Service Corporation Feeds Hosted Study Abroad Students

Brockport Auxiliary Service Corporation serves 33 quarantined students upon their return from studying abroad in various countries impacted by the Coronavirus.

by Kelly Plyter

The Coronavrus (COVID-19) has created numerous challenges and an unsettling time for families and businesses alike as everyone tries to navigate this new normalcy that has taken over. During these times of uneasiness there is always an opportunity for people to come together and help one another, and that’s exactly what happened on the campus of SUNY Brockport. On March 4, 2020 Governor Cuomo announced that all public university students studying abroad in five countries hit hardest by COVID-19 would immediately be brought back to the U.S. and would undergo a precautionary quarantine. SUNY universities were proposed as a potential quarantine site, with SUNY Brockport being one of those selected. All of a sudden, the frenzy of this virus occurring overseas was at Brockport’s doorstep. As these students were already traveling back to the U.S. time was of the essence to unite together and devise a plan of action to potentially house up to 96 students. 

On March 8, a group of 33 students arrived at the SUNY Brockport campus. These students were in an unfamiliar part of the state and now staying at an unfamiliar campus - in isolation. It was up to a lot of people, including Brockport Auxiliary Service Corporation (BASC), to develop a way to make these students feel welcomed and safe without them ever leaving their residence hall rooms. So how does an auxiliary service feed these students who just arrived without knowing their allergies, dietary restrictions, or anything about them ahead of time? 

Due to the limited timeframe given to prepare for the students’ arrival, refrigerators and microwaves were not yet set up in the residence hall rooms. To start them off, a pantry shelf was stocked with items including ramen, cereal cups, mac ‘n cheese cups, cookies, water, Gatorade, paper goods, and more. Next to the pantry BASC placed a welcome card that provided instructions of how these students would receive their meals each day. BASC Dining Services also set up an email address, which was listed on the welcome card, to communicate with these students regularly and to try and collect any allergen information as soon as possible upon their arrival. During the first few days meals were delivered twice a day – lunch and a hot dinner (with breakfast included for the following morning). Each student also received two options at each meal, vegetarian and non-vegetarian. This was done to ensure that everyone was taken care of as this dietary information was still being collected from each student.

Once the refrigerators and microwaves were delivered to the rooms, BASC was able to set up an online ordering system to allow students to begin ordering their meals a day in advance. Menus for each day of their stay were devised in advance by our Dining Services team and inputted into a Google Form. The students would then visit a hidden page on the BASC website for the forms and pre-select their meals for the day. Each menu included lunch, dinner, and breakfast for the following morning which allowed meal deliveries to be minimized to once a day because now the students could refrigerate their dinner to re-heat at their own convenience. The form allowed for any students with allergies or dietary restrictions to let us so we could accommodate them accordingly and ensure that everyone was properly nourished. Food safety labels were created to include microwave instructions, and when to properly dispose if food went uneaten within a certain timeframe. 

In addition to feeding these students, the campus also needed to take into account these students physical and mental. Various staff pulled exercise equipment together and hosted fitness classes online, resume builder seminars took place, amongst a variety of other activities. When word got out that one of the students in isolation was turning 20 during her quarantine at the campus, the community came together even more. Dining Services baked cupcakes for each student in quarantine; the birthday girl received a Brockport sweatshirt from our B&N Bookstore, amongst other swag; and a group of faculty, staff, and students gathered outside her window with balloons to sing Happy Birthday.

All of the students that had their precautionary quarantine at SUNY Brockport thankfully left the campus healthy and appreciative. They too saw the impeccable teamwork from BASC and SUNY Brockport and even left thank-you notes behind for all that were involved.