The Corp has reopened two locations offering on-campus students at Georgetown University more options for food services, groceries and COVID-19 personal protective equipment.
The Corp Cafe at Grounded, a breakfast food and coffee shop, and Vital Vittles, a full-service grocery store that will also be stocked with masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning materials, opened Jan. 27.
After students who returned to campus last fall raised concerns about limited food options, The Corp hopes its reopening will provide more variety given that many university dining services remain closed or limited, according to The Corp’s Chief Operating Officer Natalie DePaulo (COL ’22).
“For the last 50 years our mission has always been to serve students,” DePaulo said in a Zoom interview with The Hoya. “We have been trying to fill that and kind of bridge that gap. I know one thing is not having a good breakfast place or even a place to get coffee on, and that is why we are so excited about the Corp Cafe because we have really tried to make that a breakfast and coffee place.”
The two open locations will implement a new online ordering system that allows students to order food and groceries online and pick them up outside of stores in order to reduce contact between customers and employees, according to President of The Corp Ryan Farrell (SFS ’21). Only students approved to be on campus will be working at Corp locations this semester.
“That was really important to communicate to our employees that hopefully as conditions improve we’re able to offer more employment,” Farrell said in a Zoom interview with The Hoya. “But at the moment we just have to prioritize health and safety and follow Georgetown’s guidelines.”
Natalie Rechan (COL ’21), who works at The Corp Cafe and lives in the Georgetown neighborhood, said she feels safe returning to work on campus because of The Corp’s new health and safety regulations.
“We have a lengthy health and safety guide that every employee is required to follow, and I trust that my coworkers will take it seriously,” Rechan wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It took a long time for the C-suite and university officials to create a reopening plan, and I don’t think anyone wants to jeopardize this opportunity because we’re all very eager to continue working.”
The university’s COVID-19 regulations apply to students living both on campus and in the neighborhoods of Georgetown, Burleith and Foxhall. Regulations include regular testing, mandatory facial coverings and limited indoor gatherings, according to the university’s Community Compact.
The Corp has also implemented additional safety measures. Employees will have their temperature taken and will answer a health survey each time they come in for a shift, and both open locations will be regularly cleaned and disinfected between shifts and throughout the day, according to DePaulo.
“Everything that Georgetown has very thoughtfully had in place is a safety net, and then we also have our own built-in safety precautions that we put in as a second-tier check,” DePaulo said.
After 25 students living in the neighborhoods surrounding the university tested positive for COVID-19 over just several days, the university shifted to a restricted operating status as of Jan. 28, according to a university-wide email. The new operating status has suspended all in-person hybrid classes and restricted the use of Lauinger Library to students with special access until Feb. 15.
In accordance with its new operating status, the university has requested Vital Vittles close for the rest of the week to limit building access to students, according to an Instagram story post from The Corp. The Corp Cafe will remain open for now and will continue to accept online orders, according to the post.
Despite the precautions The Corp is taking and the new dining options, some students fear the reopening could potentially be dangerous to the health and safety of the on-campus community, according to Gwyneth Murphy (SFS ’23) who lives on campus.
“Georgetown had 25 COVID cases this past week, and yet we are sticking students in harm’s way by reopening more public spaces and requiring that they man them,” Murphy wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I don’t want to risk getting a student employee sick for the sake of more vegan food options, and that’s a sentiment I imagine a lot of students who have been struggling with dining would share.”
This story has been updated to clarify which students have access to The Corp locations.