By DAVID OLEJNIK & JAMES WILSON, NEWS3 Guest Reporters
MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — Not everyone has the opportunity to go home for school breaks, so Western Illinois University makes sure to accommodate the students who stay on campus. Although the majority of the university closes down for holiday breaks, the Corbin-Olsen dining center will stay open.
“For the Thanksgiving break, this upcoming break, we’ll provide a lunch/brunch option everyday. But no breakfast or no dinner and that’s actually more than we’ve had in the past,” said Vice President of Student Services John Biernbaum. “I believe we are running them from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. over this Thanksgiving break, and we chose Corbin-Olsen because it’s pretty centrally located.”
Due to the expenses of opening dining halls over break, the university has to keep the options limited. And because of the university’s current financial situation and the limited number of students who utilize dining services over breaks, there is not likely to be an expansion of dining options anytime soon.
“We only have 21 people signed up for break at this point, and opening dining centers costs a lot of money,” Biernbaum said.
Western’s goal is to support its students while still taking into consideration the cost efficiency of what they are doing.
“We’re going to try to be as supportive of our students as we can be, and we’re going to try to be as good of stewards with their money as we can be, and try to marry those two things together,” Biernbaum said.
Despite the difficulties of operating dining services during the pandemic, Biernbaum said the university feels good about the job Sodexo has done over the past year and a half.
“When we went into quarantine and isolation in Bayliss in 2020, all those kids were issued QR codes,” he said. “They ordered off the menu, had stuff hand-delivered to their doors, and it was probably one of the best isolation quarantine dining options in the United States. Sodexo rocked that out of the park.”
One thing is certain in all the uncertainty. The university’s aim is to provide a holiday meal for any student who is on campus over break.
“That will include a traditional Thanksgiving day dinner on Thanksgiving day,” Biernbaum said.