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A look at Cornell Dining for Spring 2021

After a 2020 that forced us to respond to constant changes in circumstances and restrictions, Cornell Dining is hard at work planning a great Spring Semester 2021, while keeping our physical distancing measures in place.

How did Fall 2020 go?

We began the 2020-2021 academic year very conservatively, with safety as our primary focus. That included not just rigorous cleaning and sanitizing efforts, but also such steps as contactless payment, reservations for our residential dining rooms through OpenTable, satellite meal pickup options, and expanded mobile ordering for our retail cafés. All of these steps were geared toward minimizing contact and the risk of exposure, and maximizing safety for our staff as well as all of our guests. We also simplified our menus across campus to reduce the impulse to move around in search of particular dishes, and limited some of the variety we're used to offering in order to keep things flowing as quickly as possible.

In the middle of the semester, we were able to enhance satellite meal pickup, eliminating the need to order the day before and adding some menu variety; expand our protein variety; and rotate menus a little differently so some of our dining rooms had different offerings for any given meal. We also heard from many students how much they enjoyed our special theme night dinners – Fall Harvest, Breakfast for Dinner, Rosh Hashanah, and Thanksgiving. Our team enjoyed hosting them as much as the students enjoyed the dining experience. 

Coming for Spring 2021

Of course we can't promise to return to "normal" next spring, but our Chefs and Managers have been hard at work planning to bring us closer. Each residential dining room's offerings will be differentiated by their own operational styles and available equipment, and they'll have more customizable options than we've been able to offer this fall.

Our retail locations will be adding back some favorites that we've heard students miss, like the Trillium salad bar and bowls. The brand new Martha's will open at the beginning of the semester in the newly renovated Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, featuring hearty and healthful breakfasts, plus customizable middle-eastern-inspired greens and grains bowls with roasted vegetables, proteins like roasted lamb kofta and oven baked falafel, rotating choices like wild cod cakes and jackfruit tagine, and toppings such as tahini, feta, and pumpkin seeds.

Chef Dinners will be back at our West Campus dining rooms for Wednesday evenings, giving our Chefs a chance to get creative and show off for house residents. There won’t be programming to ensure that we’re following all safety protocols though. North Campus dining rooms will bring back some favorite seasonal specials and events on Wednesdays, too. Look for our Black History Month themed dinners with Caribbean and North African menus, as well as other special meals such as Asian Fusion and Tropical dinners. We also plan on other favorites including Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day themed events. We tried special menus for our satellite meal pickup locations this fall to celebrate the Diwali Festival of Lights, and you can expect satellite specials again in the spring. 

Our dining rooms will also bring back the specialty stations you've missed, like grills and pasta bars. We'll add some breakfast specialty items such as breakfast pizzas, frittatas, and stratas, plus french dip french toast and specialty pancakes. At lunch, we're updating our vegetable offerings with a focus on variety and expanded preparations, and you can expect more protein options on the menu as well as mixed dishes like lasagna and chili.

Watch for diversity in our Spring Menus

We're going to continue celebrating cultural diversity and discovering a wide variety of culinary traditions through delicious food experiences, and rotate seasonal menu choices in each of our residential dining rooms. We can't wait to share it all with you.


About Cornell Dining

Cornell Dining is consistently ranked in the Princeton Review's top ten for best campus food among all colleges and universities in the country. That high rating comes from customer surveys, and reflects Cornell Dining's commitment to serving high-quality foods that are healthy and creatively prepared with genuine care for a diverse community. Cornell Dining operates 29 on-campus eateries -- which include residential dining rooms, cafés, coffee houses, food courts, and convenience stores -- and serves more than 23,000 meals a day to members of the Cornell community. For more information, visit