COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund

Donate Now: Fruits and vegetables for communities in need

Industry Rapid Response: Florida A&M University

April 21, 2020

With COVID-19 impacting daily life in America at all levels, the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is spotlighting the impact of and responses to the current pandemic through a series of Q&As with our partners.

Logo for Florida A&M University, a participant in Partnership for a Healthier America's Healthier Campus Initiative.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), a historically black college in Tallahassee, Florida, joined PHA’s Healthier Campus Initiative in 2018. As part of this commitment, FAMU is providing its community with better-for-you food and beverage options, creating opportunities for physical activity, and helping to shape a lifetime of healthier behaviors among students, faculty, and staff.

Interview with Rebecca Brown, Assistant Vice President of Administrative Affairs

What are the real-time impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on your organization, your operations, and your staff?

Some of the real-time impacts to the university are shifting to online instruction, virtual graduation, remote working for staff (with the exception of essential personnel), extensive sanitation of facilities, closure of some facilities (to include some residence halls), and accommodating students with extenuating needs.

With regards to our operations, service levels have all been adjusted to accommodate the needs of all university stakeholders:

  • Dining: Food services are provided, in the form of carry-out only, to essential personnel and students with extenuating circumstances. A special meal plan called the COVID- 19 has been created and assigned to students with extenuating circumstances who do not currently have a meal plan. The dining facility is open everyday. Two meals (with various food options) are provided twice a day. Social distancing and sanitation measures are practiced continually.

  • Bookstore: The university bookstore on the main campus and at the College of Law are closed to foot traffic. However, textbooks and other items are sold online. Our provider, Barnes and Noble, has also provided free shipping of textbooks. In addition, free shipping labels are provided to students to return rental books and for buybacks.

  • Business Center (Copying and Mail Services): The business center remains open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Although the Business Center is open, service levels have been adjusted. Walk-up services, as related to copying, printing and mail, continue to be offered to students, faculty, and staff. Social distancing and sanitation measures have been implemented. All deliveries have been suspended.

  • Vending (Snack, Drink, and Laundry): The service levels have been minimized to accommodate foot traffic. Extra sanitation measures are being taken by each provider.

In my opinion, our role continues to be a leader in teaching and learning.

How are you managing to maintain continuity of services/business/impact during this time of uncertainty?

​To maintain continuity of service, the university’s Emergency Management Team (EMT) meets several times per week to strategize and plan university operations. On a department level, I have one-on-one meetings with my direct reports and a full management team meeting weekly. My direct reports conduct the same with their teams. We are also in constant communication with our service providers. All of these meetings are necessary for constant monitoring of operations and repositioning as required, since the pandemic is ever-evolving. Much effort is spent to communicate business/operational changes, news, et cetera to all stakeholders. In addition, efforts continue for successful execution of summer and fall operations.

What role do you see your sector needing to play during this time of national crisis?

In my opinion, our role continues to be a leader in teaching and learning. As indicated previously, the method in which we execute our role is changing.

What advice does your organization have for Americans trying to keep healthy during the coronavirus pandemic?

​I would highly encourage individuals to follow the guidance of the CDC and the federal, state, and local governments.

For those that want to assist your organization right now, what direction are you giving and what needs do you have?

​For anyone wanting to assist FAMU in this crisis, I would encourage them to contact Tanya Tatum, Director of Health Services, via email at Tanya.Tatum@famu.edu. She will be a good resource to provide direction and to communicate the university’s needs.