Lunch goes from pressed panini to pre-made meals

To ensure student safety, students must now preorder and grab their lunch to go


James Steinkamp

New Trier’s cafeteria pre- COVID.

To ensure the safety of students the administration has had to change many aspects of food service by offering grab-and-go meals and implementing rules on where to eat and how to order. 

Over the last few years New Trier’s cafeteria, run by Quest Food Management Services, has adapted to fit student’s wants and needs – including a panini stand, a salad bar, and a coffee stand. Because of COVID, the entire food service had to be changed once again, the main adjustment being to the food itself. 

We’ll be offering a very limited menu to begin with. To start off, everything will be prepackaged,” Quest Food Service Director Dennis Karim said. 

According to Karim, repackaged meals solve many problems that the normal food service posed in a COVID context. By creating a grab-and-go system, crowded lines are avoided and less people touch the food before a student receive it. 

 Quest Food Management Services works in numerous schools in the area, including Highland Park, Hinsdale Central, and Glenbrook High Schools.

The way food is ordered will also be different. In an email on Sept. 24, Quest wrote that “food service will be limited to one lunch bag option each day that must be ordered by 9 a.m.” 

The email does not go further into this subject, but the school’s recent ‘Back to School with COVID’ video confirmed that alternative food options such as the coffee bar and breakfast stands will not be open. 

Another challenge was the lack of social distancing and designated eating areas. Administrators have been working with Karim on how to create safe eating spaces in the commons where students eat. 

“We’re taking the space and dividing different rooms into dining areas and following the guidelines as far as how many students can sit in one of the rooms,” Karim explained. 

Despite the changes to food service, Karim said he and his Quest team will continue to keep students satisfied. 

“We’ve been working together as a team just to come up with a plan that we feel will make everyone safe, but also be able to provide a service,” Karim said. 

For more information see the Food Services page on the New Trier Website or the Quest Food Management Services website.