Article from The Guilfordian

This article is part of a series highlighting the often overlooked amount of work that goes into keeping our campus fed.

Founders Dining Hall. The Cafeteria. The Caf. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this place is a staple of the Guilford experience.

At some point or another, we have all enjoyed a meal there, shared a smile with the staff or ate way too much ice-cream from the ice-cream bar — guilty.

How many of us, however, have actually thought about the work that goes into it all?

“There are a lot of things that I think the community doesn’t see,” said Long Nghiem, district manager of Meriwether Godsey, the company that caters Guilford’s dining halls.

“All the hard work that (the dining staff) does is fantastic. They’re committed, and it really is a true partnership with the students. They love the community and they’re here to serve it.”

From planning menus and purchasing ingredients to preparing and serving three meals a day, a lot of work goes into running the dining halls here on campus.

“When you have to produce, for example, mashed potatoes for 1,000 people, that’s a big deal,” said Nghiem. “Think about when you’re at Thanksgiving and you have a family of about 20 people over, multiply that by 50 — for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Planning for each semester begins immediately following graduation, which allows dining services to operate more smoothly throughout the year.

“The operation is smooth and it is efficient, and becomes effective because there is a lot of planning and a lot of organization that goes into it,” said Snehal Deshmukh, director of dining services. “It simply becomes a matter of executing an operation”

The cafeteria’s menus prioritize balance and variety, things that, as a company, Meriwether Godsey strives to provide.

“The misconception we often hear is that we don’t want to (serve something), or that we can’t do it or don’t know how to, but that’s not the case,” said Nghiem. “We’re constantly trying to bring balance and to please the entire community. It’s our due diligence to prepare healthy made-from-scratch food.”

On top of all of this, dining services has also dedicated itself to promoting sustainability here on campus. Deshmukh’s team has even collaborated with the on-campus farm as a supplier for fresh produce.

“This partnership serves as an example of how local food can be incorporated into institutional kitchen settings,” said Nicholas Mangili, farmer and employee of the Sustainability Department. “If a farmer can meet the demand, institutions serve as great markets for local food expansion.

“For myself and the students that work and volunteer on the farm, it’s great to walk in for lunch and see the hard work of the farm and the cafeteria come together for a great meal.”

Dining services and its staff are clearly dedicated to the students here at our school.

“Food service is a very passionate job,” said Desmukh. “You have to have great passion for it. It is, however, a very gratifying (experience). Students on campus really come to know us and we really come to know the students. We become a family.”

As a community, we should try to be more mindful of the work they all do for us every day. They are, after all, a part of the family.

 

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Testimonials

Testimonials

The food is just incredible! I really mean it...I hope you know that I am not just saying this. It's so colorful, fresh, and delicious...so special every day!"

Faculty Member 

Just a note to say thank you for all of the delicious food you and your staff serve each day. I never knew kale could taste so good!

Administrator 

Outstanding food, outstanding service, outstanding people. I brag about MG to my peers at other schools, and even to my friends and family!

Administrator 

Thank you so much for all the gluten-free options this year! All of your staff have been so helpful. They make a point to come up to me at meals and let me know what options you have for that meal. Salads are great, but sometimes a warm meal is just what you need!

Faculty Member 

Thanks for all of the good work you and your team did to ensure that last night’s welcome gathering for new faculty went off without a hitch. I’m so grateful for Team MG working so hard to make sure things are done the right way.

Head of School 

It’s an understatement to say we were surprised by the excellent quality of the food. We could not recall having a better tuna dish, even at the four-star resturants we frequent in Raleigh. Duke Integrative is a special place.

Guest 

Many times I find a favorite thing out of the many items served during lunch, and although the featured spinach and fruit salad was visually stunning; the SHOUT OUT winner of the day hands down was the very delicious unassuming Vegetarian Pinto Beans!!! The onions were glistening and the peppers served as a complimentary color to the two different shades of beans...I have one regret and that is I didn’t think to take a picture!

Administrator 

Thank you for making pimento cheese today! It not only is divine, but also hit the spot. I now regret wasting 62.5 years of life on this planet in which I did not eat this heavenly mix. As I explore different recipes in my home kitchen I will try my best to live up to the standard demonstrated by what I had today.

Faculty Member 

Everything was wonderful...as usual! The food was scrumptious...and the weather was gorgeous!

Conference Client 

I would not change a thing! Your staff was not only professional, but warm and caring. They truly set the tone for a memorable night. The food was delicious...our family and friends left with hearts and bellies full!

Catering Client 

I just wanted to thank you so much for all the delicious food at Duke. Your food was such a happy and positive experience and it made the days there so much more enjoyable to eat healthy, but tasty, great food.

Client 

Thanks for the delicious soup and the new harvest salad - and thanks for removing half the calories out of the Farm Basket brownie...haha.

Resident 

THANK YOU for your help today with the open house! Our visiting families raved about the personalized environment. We had a student tell us that Guilford went from his 3rd to 1st choice!

Administrator 

Thank you for all of your hard work on the meals and breaks for the Alumnae Board. The food was outstanding; everyone raved about each meal. Favorites included the grits on Saturday morning and the butternut squash soup on Sunday. YUM!!!

Administrator 

The amazing characteristic is that, on a day by day basis, you give us nutritious, varied, interesting, delicious food...not just something special for company. Please know how much you are appreciated and loved by this community.

Conference Administrator