Who keeps LFA running? The Sodexo staff.


Photo by Gray Drobny

Just a couple of examples of how the community needs to stop leaving things on the tables for Sodexo staff.

Mimi Osborne and Kirstin Palasz

   For many students, lunch is crucial—between hard classes and rigorous workloads, the lunchroom provides a much needed space to unwind and relax with friends. Though COVID-19 has impacted much of the lunch normalities in Lake Forest Academy’s J.C. Cowart Student Center(STU), Sodexo’s staff have been determined to create solutions in order to navigate an unprecedented year. 

   Founded by one man in 1966, Sodexo has grown to serve over 100 million consumers, in 64 different countries. According to their website, https://us.sodexo.com, “Sodexo’s mission is to improve Quality of Life and responsibility is to preserve it.” 

   In previous years, there have been 15 workers in the cafeteria serving the students and faculty of Lake Forest Academy. However, with this year still heavily impacted by the pandemic, there are only 10 workers. The difference may seem insignificant; however, 10 people serving roughly 430 students and over 100 faculty members is an extremely difficult task. The Sodexo workers must maintain the same level of efficiency as in previous years with only two thirds of the help they once had. 

   The average day for a Sodexo worker in the kitchen begins at around six in the morning to prepare food two days in advance of the day it will be served. The Sodexo staff’s routine runs on a strict schedule; each individual knows exactly what they are doing for the day, along with the best course of action to complete their tasks. Angelica Garcia, General Manager of Dining Services, said that besides the production of breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, “we clean as we go and manage all the other things that come up.” With students relaxing in STU at any given moment of the academic day, maintaining its appearance is a pressing challenge.

   Recently, the topics of cleanliness, respect, and adjustments to seating arrangements have sparked conversation amongst the students and faculty. Due to COVID-19’s impacts on daily life, LFA continues to implement special seating arrangements in the cafeteria. At the beginning of the year, there were only two individuals, sitting on opposite ends, allowed at a table; however, this past month, the rules have expanded, welcoming four students to a table. The cause of this shift mainly stemmed from a lack of seating opportunities for hungry students and, with the closure of Lower STU due to repeated disrespectful incidents, the need for seating increased tremendously. Unfortunately, students have been leaving plates full of food on tables and chairs, causing more work for the Sodexo staff and limiting seating even more. 

   With all the effort the Sodexo staff puts in daily, LFA students need to hold up their end as well; putting away dishes and helping maintain a clean shared area will heavily impact the community in a positive way.  Garcia asks that we “help each other in the meantime” and that “going the extra mile within the community to say thank you” can make a big difference. At the end of the day, Garcia describes the Sodexo staff as “the most committed” she has ever worked with. She says, “They are not just coming here for a paycheck, they are very committed to the school and are always concerned with what we are serving and making sure we serve something students will like.”

   Sodexo is a community that LFA individuals so often overlook; many members take for granted the passion and dedication served daily. So, when next in STU, the least we can do is thank those who work tirelessly to make our day a little bit brighter.