By Trish Freshwater, Senior Communications Manager
This article first appeared in the August issue of C@reer Connections, Sodexo's monthly e-newsletter. Sign up today!
By now, most college campuses are hustling and bustling with activity. New freshmen are finding their way around campus and getting their first taste of college food. Returning students are reuniting with friends they haven’t seen all summer. The energy is palpable in every corner of every campus.
Preparing for this exciting time of year actually begins long before the first student returns. At campuses with food and/or facilities management contracts with Sodexo, our employees have spent much of the summer preparing for the big welcome back.
“This is actually one of the busiest times of year for us,” said Ron Gregory, Sodexo Regional Vice President of Education and Sports and Leisure. “We’ve spent much of the summer getting dorm rooms ready, painting, cleaning and replacing carpeting, and getting the grounds ready with refreshed landscaping.”
At Sodexo, our goal is to provide services that contribute to a strong quality of life for university staff, faculty and students – including an inviting campus that looks amazing and is comfortable and clean, as well as great food with a variety of menu options to meet the range of needs for all campus visitors. Together, all of this helps attract and retain students, faculty and staff at the university.
“We take pride in working with the school to ensure it looks good, that they can show parents the best dorm with the best carpet, have the right flowers along the walk and provide food that is appealing to everyone,” added Gregory.
In addition to the dorms, landscaping and menu planning, Sodexo’s teams have spent the summer cleaning up campuses from summer events and camps, and preparing sporting stadiums for this year’s activities.
“Most of the fall athletes come back to campus a month early,” explained Gregory. “So we’ve been working with coaches to ensure that their facilities and locker rooms are ready. And, we’ve also been working with our culinary staff and nutritionists to ensure healthy menus that meet the nutrition needs of athletes during their sports seasons.”
Meeting the dietary and meal needs for all students on campus is something that Ben Hartley, Sodexo Resident District Manager at Northern Arizona University, spends his time managing.
“On campus, the energy is high – especially this time of year as we finalize menus, and hire and train staff who will work with us all year,” said Hartley. “We have two dining halls and 30 restaurants to manage. We feed thousands of students, faculty and staff every day. Our volume is significant – for example, our campus Subway serves 500 students during the lunch hours of 11-1. A typical Subway might serve that many customers all day.”
The high volume during the school year keeps Sodexo’s food service managers and chefs – as well as facilities managers – busy, but the nature of working at a university offers a quality of life for these employees that is unparalleled to that typically found in hospitality and other industries.
“We work hard and it’s a constant pace when school is open,” said Hartley. “But every one of us who works in Universities knows that when Thanksgiving, the holidays and other school breaks come, we can take time to enjoy being with our families. When the school is closed, we all have some down time to recharge, take vacations or simply have family time.”
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