As the college faced a quarantine conundrum, the community quickly came to the rescue

Hunter Herbaugh
Thursday, October 15, 2020
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Under their food services contract, Glendive Medical Center is preparing meals for Dawson Community College, which are then picked up and taken to the college to be served to students and staff. Hunter Herbaugh photo

Recently confirmed casses of COVID-19 at Dawson Community College resulted in the entire kitchen staff had to enter quarantine. This left the college looking for some way to organize meals for students and faculty at the school. Luckily, the community responded with enthusiasm to the college’s needs and they were able to quickly find help.

The college has partnered with Glendive Medical Center to temporarily provide their dining services. Dawson Community College President Scott Mickelsen said GMC staff provided one of a number of offers to help the college and they were able to work out a contract for their services at $5 per breakfast, $6 per lunch and $7 per dinner. The deal has been in effect since Wednesday of last week.

“We had some restaurants in town that were willing to help out but GMC was the one we were on the phone with and got the deal done first with, so that worked out really good,” Mickelsen said.

Under the arrangement, GMC provides three meals to the college a day, prepping enough to feed 150 people. The food is prepared at GMC and picked up by an employee of the college. Once the food is served, the equipment used is returned to GMC to be washed and sanitized.

So far, Mickelsen noted that the arrangement has worked out well. Along with GMC, the college is being backed by student workers and staff that Mickelsen noted deserve recognition for their efforts to help during this time.

“We have the people from food service in isolation, so other people at the college have really had to step up and help run the grill, help serve, help wash tables, those kinds of things. We’ve got some student workers who have stepped up and done a fabulous job of cleaning and making sure things are closed down after supper at night. We’ve had staff and members of the college step up, be there early in the morning to cook breakfast,” he said.

This arrangement doesn’t seem to be putting too much strain on GMC’s food services either. According to head dietician Kim Trangmoe, the added responsibility of cooking for the college hasn’t significantly affected either their supply of food or their staff. She noted that the hospital has done catering before so this arrangement is a lot like an extended catering service.

“We’re just happy to be able to help out when they really need us,” Trangmoe said.

This situation has even provided the food services at GMC with an opportunity to use the new smoker that the hospital provided them, as they’ve used it to provide a variety of items to the college.

Among everything else though, Trangmoe noted she was impressed that DCC and GMC were able to work out a deal so quickly.

“It went pretty fast. We had a plan and a menu and everything ready for them in less than 24 hours,” she said.

She added that this isn’t the only time that GMC will be helping the college, as they have a plan to help again at some point this year due to a member of the staff expecting a child.

Mickelsen explained that this arrangement will also have no effect on the precautions the college has in place for quarantined students. While in quarantine, students will still have meals delivered to their dorms and can still provide college staff with a grocery list should they need anything from the store.

The kitchen staff is expected to return on Monday, Oct. 19. Mickelsen noted that this means their return will overlap somewhat with the contract with GMC, but that was an intentional choice so that they are prepared should any member of the kitchen staff have to end up being quarantined for longer. The overlap is also to provide some time for the kitchen staff to get back up to speed when they are eventually able to return.

“There is a little overlap period there and the reason we did that is if any of the (kitchen staff) in isolation came up with a positive test and had to isolate longer, then we’d have some overlap to help out there, but we may use them a few more days when we have people back on campus so that our people can take an inventory of what’s there, what needs to be ordered, just to give us a couple day transition. So that’s built in to that contract,” Mickelsen said.

Overall, Mickelsen said he was impressed by the amount of people that offered help to the college in it’s time of need and extended thanks especially to GMC.

“It was impressive. I called one restaurant that I know the owners of and within 30 minutes they got back to me said ‘whatever you need, we’ll step up,’ and at the same time, we were on a call with Glendive Medical Center and within a 45 minute phone call they said ‘yep, we can do this’ and we agreed to it over the phone. That’s one of the great things about small communities, coming together when somebody needs help. This is a great community for this type of thing,” he said.

Reach Hunter Herbaugh at rrreporter@rangerreview. com.

“That’s one of the great things about small communities, coming together when somebody needs help. This is a great community for this type of thing,”

DCC President Scott Mickelsen