Guilford’s dining hall: behind the scenes

Whether you’re a student, a teacher or part of the College’s staff, one thing that connects everyone in the Guilford community is food. It’s something we literally can’t live without, and members of the school’s dining staff are a vital part of life here on campus.

But how much work is necessary for a successful meal service? How does the Guilford staff provide safe and nutritious meals seven days a week?

Each member of the dining staff has a history with both Guilford and catering company Meriwether Godsey, which provides the College with culinary workers. Several staff members are long-time vets, while others are newer to the trade.

Whether or not their personal history has only been for a few months or for over a decade, each staff member has a story to share. To better understand a day in the life of Guilford cafeteria staff, we can look into the average preparations put into a weekend brunch in Spring 2022.

According to retail manager Domonic Ferri, the workload in the dining hall can change depending on the day of the week. On most weekends, services are slow, while the weekday lunch services can get particularly hectic.

“The school and Meriwether Godsey work really well together,” Ferri said.”The school takes good care of us and we take good care of each other.”

Ferri emphasized the importance of the amount of work his team does, and said that he makes a point to help ease the workload when he can. He often works odd jobs or helps out when the staff is low on hands, whether that’s by prepping ingredients or covering a station.

A lot of hands are needed to complete a single service, and unfortunately, the dining hall is understaffed more often than not.

“It takes all of us to do what we do,” said the head of catering Sheila Angela Brown.

Brown has worked at Meriwether Godsey for 25 years and has been part of Guilford’s dining staff for over 14 years now.

“The hardest part is making sure that there is someone at every station,” said Brown when asked about what aspects of a meal service can be challenging.

The dining hall doesn’t just act as a place for students to eat; it also doubles as a place for them to work. Students looking for a job on campus can apply for a part-time position on dining staff. Junior Dasia Washington started working in the dining hall at the beginning of the fall semester of 2021.

More often than not, students who come into the dining hall are likely to spot a familiar face, whether it’s a friend, someone from class or their dorm or even a former professor. Food brings people together, so it makes sense that the dining hall would be an important hub for the Guilford community.

“Everybody comes through here; it’s the center of Guilford,” Washington said when asked about the connections she’s made during her shifts in the dining hall. “I get to meet a lot of people I wouldn’t usually interact with, although it can get busy at times.”

Unlike in restaurants, the human connection between producer and consumer at Guilford doesn’t end once the meal is finished. Rather, it is a constant cycle. Students often exchange pleasantries with dining staff daily, and soon, they might realize they’re on a first-name basis with staff and try not to hold up the line too much as they talk to them. This kind of connection can last the whole four years of college if students are lucky. After all, most students see the dining staff two to three times a day.