During the snowstorm that devastated Abilene last month, the Bean provided a place for the community to stay, hang out, eat and drink clean water.
“To me it seems fairly simple. We’ve got an agreement to open and run a service for the university, regardless of what happens, David Casida, director of dining services, said. “So once we knew weather reports coming in, we started planning behind the scenes both here and regionally for support and started looking at transportation and menus and supplies that we might need to get in before the storm hit. We didn’t know if we’re going to have power or not. So we just opened and we tried to serve the best we could.”
While the Bean never lost power, the water supply was reduced when the boil water notice was imposed.
“We quickly readjusted out menus and then started gathering as much fresh water as we could. We’ve got large vessels that we can store several hundred gallons in and use that sparingly to set up temporary hand-washing stations, hot potable water and to wash all the pots and pans,” Casida said. “It’s challenging, but we worked through it.”
When students, faculty and surrounding community members lost power, the university opened the Bean to the community as a place to sleep and keep warm.
“We served between three and four hundred visitors a day on top of the student body that we normally serve. Outside of that, we saw a lot of folks just needing a place to come in and get out of the weather,” said Casida.
Due to icy conditions and some staff members needing to stay home with their children, the Bean served the community for nearly a week of without 60-75% of the regular staff.
“I think the leadership and the student body were very gracious and it’s just a very warm environment,” Casida said. “We certainly experienced that our team really felt when someone said thank you, we knew they meant that. It went a long ways to helping us come in, because several of us started at 4:00 in the morning and work until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. So it really gave us an extra boost of energy.”
For some off-campus students, the Bean was the only access to food and clean water they had.
“I was in quarantine when it hit. I had minimal food and water and was supposed to get grocery pickup on Tuesday; however, Walmart canceled my order due to lack of food,” said Megan Paul, graduate student from Wylie. “When I was released from quarantine on Wednesday night, I heard that the Bean provided food and water for off campus students. ACU did a great job providing for the students, and I couldn’t be more thankful. “