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A guide to Cornell Dining for Fall 2020

The Cornell Dining team has assembled some information to help you navigate a dining program of which we're extremely proud, explaining some of the steps we're taking to keep everyone safe this year. We've focused on five key initiatives to help prepare for a safe and efficient semester.

  • Contactless payment
  • RSVP for dine-in and takeout
  • Satellite locations for meal pickup
  • Reusable containers
  • Mobile ordering

Safety and sanitation

Cornell Dining employees and guests will wear masks or suitable face coverings at all times in our eateries except while seated and eating or drinking. We are disinfecting high-touch surfaces every 15 minutes and all equipment in line with current guidelines from CDC, New York State, and Tompkins County.

We have implemented navigational signs in our eateries for clear guidance, including separate entrance and exit pathways, and plexiglass shields have been installed at all cashier and door-checker stations. Staff must maintain six feet of distance and practice proper hand hygiene.

All food in our eateries will be served by staff, with no self-serve offerings, to reduce touch points and cross contact.

RSVP and reservations

With limited dine-in seating available in our residential dining rooms, and a need to space out guests coming in for takeout, we are using the third-party OpenTable service to offer reservations for both dine-in and takeout. We suggest installing the OpenTable app on your iPhone or Android device, but OpenTable can also be used via mobile or desktop web browser. You will need to create a user account on OpenTable. You don't need to have a meal plan to eat in our eateries or to make reservations, and there is no fee to use OpenTable to make a reservation.

We won't be offering group reservations for dine-in seating. All seats are spaced for individual diners with six feet on all sides.

There will be a line host to greet people at our residential dining rooms and check reservations with the OpenTable service. Guests who don't have a reservation will be asked to wait for available seating or available space in line for takeout.

While walk-ins are allowed, our staff will be using OpenTable to manage the line, so we suggest taking a moment on your way to the eatery to submit a reservation so as to save a step. If you don't have a smartphone, just use a web browser on any computer or mobile device to make your reservation before heading to the eatery.

We're extending hours at dining rooms so everyone has time to come in despite our reduced capacity.

Dining rooms and satellite locations

All of our residential dining rooms will be open for students on meal plans, but to help reduce density in our dining rooms and offer an alternative to takeout at these locations, we're opening five satellite locations that will have prepared meals available for pickup for both lunch and dinner meal periods. These locations will be spread out around campus so everyone will have a convenient spot to get lunch or dinner close to housing and to classes. With this semester's hybrid of in-person and online classes and events, we anticipate North Campus, West campus, and Central campus regions may have relatively equal traffic at meal times.

The meals available at our satellite locations include our satisfying Take Us Home meals, which also remain available in the coolers in our café and convenience store locations. They include delicious meat, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes that are ready to enjoy as-is or reheat. While picking up your meals, you're required to wear masks or suitable face coverings. Meals from these satellite locations must be pre-ordered via GET Order the day before you plan to pick them up.

Risley Dining Room remains our go-to location for certified gluten-free, peanut-free, and tree-nut-free meals, and 104West! offers certified kosher meals.

Mobile ordering

We've added five of our cafés to GET Order, our mobile ordering service, as a way of reducing the amount of time guests need to spend in our eateries. Order in advance to reduce your contact and interaction with staff at our cafés, and be more efficient with your time. You can place your order hours ahead if you're sure of your schedule, or simply before walking over. Just skip the line and grab your meal from the pickup station.

Meals from our satellite locations must be pre-ordered the day before you plan to pick them up, and a few eateries will require online ordering.

If you don't have a smartphone, just use a web browser on any computer or mobile device to place your order before heading to the eatery to pick it up. There is no fee for using GET Order to place your order.

Contactless payment

Cornell Dining's eateries are going cashless for safety and sanitation! We're using contactless payment methods, and instead of handing your Cornell ID card to a door-checker or cashier in our eateries, you'll use the GET My Card feature of the GET app to show a unique bar code representing your Cornell ID for both meal swipes and BRBs. We also have self-serve payment terminals for credit and debit cards, supporting Apple Pay and Google Wallet as well as chip cards.  

Reusable takeout containers

Many students and staff will be taking meals to go, and our reusable takeout container offers a way to reduce the waste of single-use plastic containers. Buy a reusable takeout container for a one-time charge of just $7.50, and when you bring it back rinsed on your next visit, you can swap it for a freshly washed and sanitized container at the door-checker station. Buy yours at any participating eatery, rinse it when you're done eating, and bring it back to any participating eatery for future meals.

Please note that we're suspending our Mug Club program and will not be allowing the use of any reusable beverage containers in our facilities at this time, as we need to ensure containers used in our eateries are sanitized.

Meal Plans

Our student meal plans offer both meal swipes and Big Red Bucks (BRBs). Meal swipes can be used to enter and enjoy a meal at any of our ten residential dining rooms. Big Red Bucks are our declining-balance debit account, and 1 BRB is equivalent to $1. BRBs can be used to buy coffee or snacks at our coffee shops, soup or sandwiches at our cafés, full takeout meals, as well as a full meal at our dining rooms. You or a friend or family member can add to your BRBs balance at any time, and using BRBs means your purchase is not charged sales tax.

The Fall 2020 meal plan begins with brunch on Sunday, August 23rd, and after you've cleared your arrival quarantine, our facilities will be fully open to you. After that, the meal plan week runs from Thursday to Wednesday each week for purposes of counting meal swipes per week. While you're in your arrival quarantine, we'll provide meals available at specific outdoor sites so you can pick up your meal and immediately return to your room.

You can add or increase a meal plan at any time during the semester! The deadline to reduce your meal plan for the fall semester is September 16th.

Dining off campus

Just like Cornell Dining's eateries, restaurants in and around Ithaca are operating under Tompkins County and New York State health guidelines, which have the potential to change. In general, you can expect many eateries in the area to offer outdoor and limited-capacity indoor seating for groups of six or fewer, and plenty of takeout and delivery options.

Cornell Dining's City Bucks program offers a declining balance debit account that allows you to enjoy delicious meals off campus at participating restaurants and food stores with a simple swipe of your Cornell ID card.

Jobs with Cornell Dining

Though our style of service may have changed, our commitment to providing students with meaningful work opportunities and leadership positions has not changed. Whether you want to work in one of our residential dining locations or our coffee shops or cafés, whether you want to hone your culinary skills by working closely with a chef, we have a position for you. If you're looking to take on more of a leadership role, we have supervisor and student manager positions that can fit. We also have new OpenTable host positions this fall. Cornell Dining hires many full-time and part-time staff members for a wide range of positions and roles on campus, as well as a robust student staff team.

We look forward to welcoming you!

Cornell Dining has been in the top ten college dining programs in the Princeton Review for ten years! This year we have to figure out how to provide a convenient food option, well balanced and very healthy, but still efficient to get everyone fed while still managing six feet of distance. It's a challenging task, but with some of our partnerships to leverage technology like contactless payment, mobile ordering, and dining reservations, as well as training staff over the past four months on how to properly prepare and serve food following new protocols, we're very confident we have a great plan in place to ensure guests and staff are safe, and you'll still get a high quality meal.

Any questions?

If there's anything we haven't covered, please reach out to