Jonathan and Christie Bitner delivering meals to Faith Hall Residence Director Miriam Olar

Serving Meals and Sending Notes to COVID-19 Students

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by Clem Boyd, Communication Content Manager

Staff accountant Stephen Geyer transports Caring Well Meals to a delivery vanWhen you’re not feeling well, having mom’s chicken noodle soup and getting an encouraging note from a friend can go a long way toward recovery. Cedarville University is applying those same healing remedies to its quarantined and isolated students.

Cedarville began the Caring Well Meals service on Sept. 19. The service enlists the volunteer support of faculty, staff and students delivering meals to students who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation, or to students who had contact with a COVID-19 positive classmate and are in quarantine.

Box of meals going to Printy HallMeals are delivered each day at 7:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. on weekends), noon, and 5:30 p.m. by a volunteer team of 10 to 12 people.  

In addition to the Caring Well Meals, the university has also begun the iCare initiative. This is an online opportunity for anyone to write a note of encouragement to students who are quarantined or isolated.

The campus community will be introduced to the iCare initiative at a Thursday Night Live event on October 1 at 7 p.m. at the North Field, where Cedarville’s outdoor chapel takes place.

Individuals can write a note of encouragement to students in quarantine or isolation by visiting cedarville.edu/icare

“Lots of people have come together to contribute their time and talents to serve our students well,” noted Dan Howdyshell, director of financial planning and analysis, and one of the meal service coordinators. “The attitude among the volunteers has been incredible. They’re really concerned for the students and want them to know there is a community of people who want to care well for them.”

Faith Hall RD Mirian Olar organizes meals for pick up by isolated studentsThe meals service involves a cross-campus collaboration of Pioneer College Caterers, which runs the university’s dining hall, Chick-fil-A, and other food service locations; the student life and Christian ministry division, which includes residence life; University Medical Services (UMS); and many faculty, staff and student volunteers from across campus.

Students who have tested positive or identified as having had contact with a COVID-19 positive classmate are immediately entered into Cedarville’s emergency communication system by UMS. They are notified about next steps, including a link to an online form where they choose their three meals by midnight for the next day. They continue to order by midnight for the next day’s food delivery for the duration of their time in isolation or quarantine.

“Pioneer has done an outstanding job partnering with us in this process,” Howdyshell said. “They pick and pack the meals, label each meal by name and residence hall, then organize the meals by each residence hall. And they put together meals from all over campus – Chick-fil-A, Tossed, our Grab and Go stations, Stinger’s and the dining hall.”

The meals are gathered up on the Stevens Student Center loading dock then placed in delivery vans for drop off. Volunteers hand off the meals to residence directors (RD), or someone the RD designates, such as a resident assistant or student helper, who meet them outside their buildings, and the meals are then delivered to the isolated or quarantined students inside.

“We are following all the COVID safety protocols,” Howdyshell explained. “The meals are closed by Pioneer staff, and they are not opened till they get to the students. The delivery vans are being cleaned before and after every use.”

“This is part of the continuing effort to care well for those students,” said John Davis, associate vice president of human resources, who is also serving on the Caring Well Meals team. “It was born out of a practical desire to invite people to actively engage with what we’re trying to do.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about Cedarville University, visit www.cedarville.edu.