The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Dining hall staff creates family feeling

Fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, meat, vegan food, sweets and snacks, fellowship and friendly faces: the Guilford College Dining Hall staff provides all this every day to students, faculty, staff and visitors. The staff is so efficient that many people do not notice them working the lines. The following is a brief introduction of some of the longest-tenured staff.

According to the Guilford Dining website, “(The mission of the cafeteria is) to take care of each guest as if they are our only one.
 Beyond carefully and creatively preparing meals, every day, this means gracious service and strong stewardship of all our resources: natural, financial, and people.”

One of the ways the cafeteria accomplishes its mission is by having well experienced staff.

“I am from Greensboro,” said Lisa Gilmer, who works in the front of the house where guests enter and exit. “I have been supervising here for 30 years. I started after the chicken plant I worked at closed down. My brother, Douglas Gilmer, said Guilford was hiring.”

Gilmer continued, “My favorite memories of Guilford are the renaming of the Walnut Room to the Gilmer Room in honor of my brother, and those times when old students come back and bring their families.”

The dining hall website states that the staff has a “student-centric approach.” They focus on student feedback because if the students are not happy, nobody is happy. The staff strives to serve food that makes students happy. Guest feedback is important to the cafeteria because the staff always encourages new ideas that they receive from students and other guests. They integrate these ideas in their work.

It is easy to see these new ideas in the salad bar.

“I love working on the salad bar,” said Ann Webster, who helps organize the salad bar. “I love the creativity of mixing and matching different flavors and colors. I have been doing the same job for 33 years.”

The staff’s continuity allows them to form strong connections with the students.

“(I have) become fond of several students who have graduated and still keep in touch,” said Dorothy Benallal, who has been an administrative assistant for 19 years. “I love the job because I love the history of the school.”

The staff endeavors to create an environment similar to a family. One of the first people to form this family feeling is Lisa Harris, currently a cashier, who has worked in various other dining hall positions since 1989.

“I am the first person to meet the customer coming in the door,” Harris said. “I get to know the names and histories of the students. Most treat me like their mom away from home.”

An extension of the family environment created at the dining hall is the loving relationship formed between students and workers.

To paraphrase Ruthie Brown, a dining hall employee for 34 years, she loves the students and they love her back. After starting in the dish room, Brown moved to the front as a server, where she is able to interact more with the students.

It is clear that most of the workers really like their roles in the dining hall.

“I have worked a lot of positions in my 32 years, but baking is my passion,” said Sara Lee, the dining hall’s baker. “I enjoy working here. We play safe pranks and the people here are more like family.”

From fruits and vegetables to a supportive environment, the Guilford Dining Hall staff is one of the things that makes Guilford a college where both diversity and community are equally valued.

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