SCCC cafeteria offers self-service options; first time since COVID


Mauricio Gonzalez

Staff personnel Paul Fisher making a salad with the newly open salad bar.

The cafeteria at Seward County Community College is finally offering self-service options in almost a year. Now students and staff can serve their salads, drinks and pick dessert from designated areas. 

When the cafeteria reopened last year, SCCC and the representatives from Great Western Dining decided to change some aspects from the experience of eating at the cafeteria in an effort to protect students from COVID. For example, to eat there, students, faculty and staff had to wear masks while in the line, there were table dividers and all the food was served behind glass by the cafeteria staff. Lots of options were packaged and in smaller portions. 

To the students’ surprise and joy, almost all these COVID regulations are gone in the cafeteria. If one desires to eat there, the only remaining protocol is the use of masks until seated, which is crucial now that they can serve most of their food themselves. 

“I think self-service makes it faster because one can go to a specific area and does not have to wait in line for something one doesn’t want to eat.” 

— Jessica Sales

Jessica Sales, a freshmen biology major from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil commented on the changes in the dynamic of the cafeteria.

“I think self-service makes it faster because one can go to a specific area and does not have to wait in line for something one doesn’t want to eat,” Sales said. 

Self-service is popular among freshmen and especially the sophomores that have dealt with protocols for almost a year now. 

“Self-service made it where people who only had a short time to get food before their next class can do it,” said Esi Houltz, a sophomore nursing student from Elkhart. 

While making service faster and more efficient, serving your food also accommodates students with allergies and special diets.

 “It helps me a lot because I am a vegetarian and I get to choose what to eat before the meat is mixed in,” said Malena Catala, a freshman majoring in marketing from Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Other changes include that the table dividers are now gone. While these plexi-glass protected everyone at the table against the spread of COVID, since that was the only time people did not have their masks, they also only permitted four people at a table and limited conversations.

“I think it is much better without it because it is easier to interact with other people and make eye contact,” Sales continued, complimenting changes the changes. 

Students dig into the salad bar at the SCCC cafeteria. Self-service at the different food bars has not been available since COVID came into the picture in the spring of 2020. Students said they were excited to be able to serve themselves, it made the wait time shorter for eating. (Mauricio Gonzalez)

Dennis M. Sander, interim president and vice president of finance and operations, remembered how people were able to freely serve their food and not even wear a mask while in the cafeteria before students came back to campus in August.

 “With the spike of COVID indications, due to the new variant, we were concerned as a college, so it was important for me that we give a message that we are concerned about the safety of our students and always will be,” Sander said, explaining the reason the cafeteria started out the school year with the heavier restrictions.

“The cafeteria experience has been wonderful over the years. Being away from home, it is time to talk to your fellow students, to talk to faculty, and the masks and partitions take away from it,” Sander continued. 

As Great Western Dining’s supervisor on campus, Sander also said “students were thrilled to serve their own strawberries” when some of the restrictions were lifted last week. 

The cafeteria is open from Monday to Friday, from 7:15 to 9:15 a.m. for breakfast, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for lunch and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for dinner. On the weekends, the cafeteria serves brunch from noon to 1:30 p.m., and dinner from 5:30 to 7 p.m. 

For more information about food service on campus visit the website Food Services – SCCC