Campus News

How UK Reimagined Campus Dining Services for Fall 2020 Including New Dining Options

Champions Kitchen reconfigured for physical distancing. Photo by Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.
Champions Kitchen reconfigured for physical distancing. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 19, 2020) — With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic the University of Kentucky was faced with planning how to return to safe and reinvented normal operations for Fall 2020. Included in this was reimagining the dining experience for the UK community. 

"In these unprecedented times, the UK Dining team has a singular focus on keeping the UK community safe while delivering an exemplary guest experience," said UK Dining Resident District Manager Vigg Pulkit.

Dining halls opened and now operate with modifications that include transition from self-serve food options to served food options, following physical distance guidelines, and pre-packaged options. Seating in key dining areas has been significantly reduced and adjusted to comply with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UK’s START team. As part of the dining modifications, Fresh Food Company and Champions Kitchen are closing for an hour between each meal session to deep clean the spaces.

“While closing dining locations is inconvenient, we are doing it for the community’s best interest. We also want to encourage students to continue taking advantage of the multiple dining options that are available," said Sarah Nikirk, the executive director of UK’s Auxiliary Services. "There are plenty of places to sit and socially distance and be with your friends around campus.”

In addition to updated cleaning and safety measures, new dining options were added to campus including two food trucks, Papa John's and Nathan’s Taqueria, an expanded Wildcat Pantry at The 90, a NuHealth Smoothie Bar at the Johnson Center and an additional Chick-fil-A at The 90. Students can also now use meal swipes at locations other than Champions Kitchen.

Locations where students can use a meal swipe during lunch (11 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday through Friday)

  • Wildcat Pantry at Holmes Hall
  • Panda Express
  • Subway in Gatton Student Center
  • Auntie Anne's
  • Champions Kitchen
  • food truck #1 (Nathan's Taqueria, in front of William T. Young Library)
  • food truck #2 (Papa John's, on Patterson Drive by Fine Arts Building)
  • Intermezzo
  • Subway at M.I. King
  • Wildcat Pantry at Jacobs Science Building
  • Wildcat Pantry at The 90
  • Fresh Food Company
  • Papa John's at The 90

“We really had to think on ways to provide dining services safely and give people more options,” said Scott Henry, UK’s dining partnership executive director. “Even with the pivot to a new normal everyone is doing a great job and staying distant, and our staff is doing what they are supposed to. I am very proud of the UK community.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.