What Does The BC Dining Experience Look Like During a Pandemic?


After glitching Zoom lessons, an excessive amount of screentime, and isolation from friends, this year’s transition from online and hybrid learning to a completely in-person learning experience has been long-sought. Yet, despite many’s frustration with remote learning, the rampant spread of the coronavirus remains ongoing. As students returned to school in the midst of a pandemic, Berkeley Carroll faculty and staff have carefully considered ways in which to keep students safe and healthy. 


All teachers and students are required to be fully vaccinated. 


The SchoolPass app ensures that those who enter the building are feeling well, with a three-question survey about temperature and a number of COVID symptoms. 


And most importantly, wearing a mask is required at all times.


That is, until it’s time to eat.


In planning how the Berkeley Carroll Upper School can remain as safe as possible during a pandemic, dining creates a dilemma. Obviously, when eating, it is physically impossible to wear a mask. 


Searching for answers regarding the cafeteria changes, I interviewed Mr. Henneberry, 11th Grade Dean.


What was your original plan for dining this year? How has it changed and why?


“Originally, we wanted to make sure that people would have the space they would need in the cafeteria, which is why it was proposed that one grade at a time would eat at a satellite location on the third floor. We started with the 9th grade eating there because it would be a nice time for the grade to bond. The Flik team did a great job making and delivering tons of lunch options up there for the first week of school. However, because the cafeteria didn’t end up being as crowded, as people wanted to eat outside or eat off-campus, we could open the space to all four grades.”


What are the steps being taken to respond to the criticism of the new cafeteria system?


“Here’s what I know for sure: the Flik team has been very open to feedback from people who work at Berkeley Carroll, and the conversation has included teachers, administrators, and people who work for Flik. I believe that they have been working on the flow through the lunchline (efficiency) and making sure that there is enough food provided to all students. We also brought in a new chef, Michael Jackson, to help support everyone who works in the kitchen.”


Who is in charge of overseeing changes for the lunch program?


“CJ Sandy, […]is now overseeing our lunch program… She’s the main person who knows about lunch changes.”


Students’ criticisms of the cafeteria include the portion sizes, as many feel that the amount of food given has been inadequate. This problem hasn’t been unique to Berkeley Carroll. Across the country, schools have reported shortages of food, an unfortunate by-product of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools have stopped serving lunch entirely. An article by NBC News explains that “a back-to-school survey by the School Nutrition Association, which represents more than 55,000 school nutrition professionals, found that 97 percent of program directors who responded were concerned about continued pandemic-related supply chain issues, with 65 percent citing ‘serious’ concerns.”

Another change to the dining system has been packaging. Originally served on plates, food is now packaged and served in take-out-style containers. While students have expressed concerns regarding the environmental impact of the plastic bags, cups, and cartons, the Berkeley Carroll community has appreciated the convenience of the to-go containers. As students are able to carry their meals where they please, student’s who choose to eat food prepared by the cafeteria have more options for where they decide to eat, including the courtyard and the Brooklyn Music Conservatory.


In addition to hot meals served in takeout containers, students are able to choose from a wide variety of lunch options including wrapped sandwiches…



wrapped fruit,


and yogurt.

As they navigate dining during the pandemic, be sure to thank our amazing kitchen team, Ms. Sharmaine Voltaire, Mr. Michael Jackson, Mr. Varian Hill, Ms. Katie Teague, Ms. Sondra Miller and Mr. Kevin Jackson!