Marist Student Honors Dining Services

By Allison Smith

“Did you know some employees don’t leave work until 2:00 AM? Did you know the longest working employee has been here since 1979? Did you know there are approximately 40 student employees?”

These and many more facts were presented by Sodexo Marketing at the Marist Dining Services Appreciation celebration in Dec. 2017 that student Abigail Ritson created and organized.

 Sodexo Staff enjoying Sodexo Employee Appreciation Day. Image provided by Abigail Ritson.

Sodexo Staff enjoying Sodexo Employee Appreciation Day. Image provided by Abigail Ritson.

There is a plethora of behind-the-scenes work that goes into feeding Marist students. Many staff members are an integral part of making sure the students have quality meals available to them daily. A student here at Marist has decided to take it upon herself to say thank you to these staff members.

“The original idea behind the appreciation project was to recognize employees who work behind-the-scenes in the dining hall and their dedication and service to our community,” Ritson said.

Abby Ritson is a senior at Marist and a proud member of the Culinary Council. The Culinary Council is a group of faculty, staff, and students who meet four times a semester to talk about events, suggestions, and improvements of the dining services within the residential and retail locations.

“We [the Culinary Council] discussed and executed the new extended hours in the dining hall; we also started the suggestion box,” Ritson commented.

Marist Dining Services Appreciation, previously called Sodexo Appreciation, was Ritson’s attempt to make the behind-the-scenes effort of all the dining services more known and openly appreciated. She started this event in the 2016-2017 school year, initially focusing on the Sodexo staff members. The first attempt included a banner that was available outside the dining hall entrance for students to sign.

The purpose of the banner was to give all Marist students a role in thanking the hard-working staff. Ritson wanted everyone to have a way to participate in the appreciation week.

The following year, the event expanded to include recognition of all dining service staff members. The Appreciation Week took place from Dec. 3-8 and included thank you notes signed by sports teams and a celebration in the Cabaret on Dec 7. The celebration was an addition to the appreciation event that happened the previous year, and it consisted of music, photos, and a PowerPoint.

 The cake from Sodexo Employee Appreciation Day. Image provided by Abigail Ritson.

The cake from Sodexo Employee Appreciation Day. Image provided by Abigail Ritson.

Ritson was advised by Steve Sansola, the head of Student Affairs and “a wonderful mentor.” Sansola was in charge of funds and making connections with those who run Sodexo and Dining Services.

Through Ritson’s and Sansola’s coordination, Sodexo Marketing contributed the PowerPoint, a poster, and an extravagant cake for the celebration. Ritson also took the initiative to partner with the Marist Fox Photography club to take pictures of any dining service members that wanted recognition through photographs that were posted in the dining hall during the Appreciation Week.

To Ritson, it is extremely important to recognize the hard work and importance of the workers Marist students rely on daily. She hopes the appreciation spreads across campus and created this event so more students are aware of the many dining service members and the intriguing behind-the-scenes effort that goes into feeding students and keeping the dining locations clean.

Ritson hopes to pass this significant event down to someone just as passionate as she graduates in the Spring of 2018.

For the future, she wishes to see an improvement in advertisement and a larger turn out of students to the celebration. The Fall 2017 celebration saw participation with the athletic department, but Ritson hopes to expand to multiple campus clubs and organizations. It is important to collaborate with other campus organizations to create a wider spread celebration of the workers deserving appreciation.

“I want to bring awareness and expand to appreciate everyone and recognize the work they do all year,” Ritson said.

 A student and some members of the Sodexo Dining Staff enjoying the celebration. Image provided by Abigail Ritson.

A student and some members of the Sodexo Dining Staff enjoying the celebration. Image provided by Abigail Ritson.

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