During Pride in Foodservice Week, dining staff at North Carolina State University (NC State) were "brought to tears" by positive messages from customers, according to Keith Smith, director of residential dining at NC State.
The event ran from Feb. 6 through Feb. 10 and students were able to express their appreciation for the dining team through a variety of formats. They could write cards with messages to the dining team, which were then posted on a board in Fountain Dining Hall, or they could send messages to staff via TxtandTell, a service used by NC State for gathering feedback on dining and facilities.
The service brought in positive messages ranging from simple, ‘thanks for all your hard work,” messages to personal notes mentioning staff members by name.
"Thank you so much for all of the amazing food and kind staff! Going to Clark always puts a smile on my face. I really appreciate how much thought you put into your menus and making sure that we have a variety of good foods to eat every day,” said one message, according to Stacey Strickland, marketing manager at NC State Dining.
Smith said the week of celebration positively impacted team morale.
“I think [staff] felt appreciated and really touched. A lot of them were called out by name. There were a lot of personal things that students shared how it impacted them personally. And I think that just touched our staff and made them feel like they were impacting the students and they were part of their community,” he said.
Pride in Foodservice Week also highlighted the impact the dining team can have on students lives, said Jennifer Gilmore, director of strategic marketing and communication at NC State.
“I think it’s been especially clear coming off of the pandemic that we have a lot of students that are having a little bit harder time being away from home and navigating,” she said. “So, when they tell us that when they eat our pot roast, the pot roast reminds them of home, or they lost their mom and our food items that bring them joy like the Boston crème pie, just brought joy to their day.”
The week's events sought to remind dining workers that their work is appreciated.
“It’s not an easy job. Sometimes it’s a little thankless,” noted Smith.
The team plans to continue the Pride in Foodservice event in the future and hopes to include the dining team in the planning process.