By Malena Solin ’20
At Thacher, we often take our dining hall and dining hall staff for granted, never really building relationships with the staff the way we do with other adults on campus and complaining that the food isn’t as good as at home. However, what most people are not aware of is that the dining hall staff works long and hard hours just to put together one meal, and they give extra effort to meals for students with dietary restrictions or preferences.
One reason that students may not fully appreciate the dining hall is that they are not given the opportunity and encouragement to build relationships with its staff. Dining Hall Director Richard Maxwell said, “It would probably generate some appreciation…just by knowing the names of the dining hall staff,” and Steven Jump, a senior, said that he enjoys quick conversations with dining hall staff members when getting food and that, “It’s nice to get to know them outside of the dining hall.” However, Jump admits that most people do not know the staff’s names, and said, “I think that something we should work on more is knowing names of people we interact with on a daily basis.” Will Harding, a freshman, said, although he only knows two of the dining hall staff members’ names, “I always say good morning or hello at the buffet line, provide a smile, and say thank you every time.” Making the extra effort to interact with the dining hall staff might be a solution to creating relationships with these Thacher community members and building a greater appreciation for our dining hall.
According to Richard Maxwell, it takes 20 man hours to prepare, cook, and set up for one formal dinner, though most students probably have no idea how much time and energy goes into preparing our meals. There are 23 people working in the dining hall preparing and cleaning for the students and providing great options for everyone. Fiona McLaughlin, a sophomore, said that she appreciates all of the options the dining hall gives us, especially the produce, and Steven Jump, says, “It’s super super easy to be a vegetarian at Thacher.” Jump also noted, “They try their hardest to cater to everybody’s wants and needs” by having meals from different cultures every week. The dining hall staff also take criticisms and suggestions seriously, paying attention to the suggestions box, and listening to the recent request of goat cheese at the salad bar, in addition to creating the new Brunch Extravaganza. Will Harding, who is vegan, said, “The meals that are prepared for us are almost always great, and I never find myself hungry after a meal,” an impressive feat for the dining hall staff, who are preparing food for the entire community.
It is important for Thacher students to realize, even in our privileged community, that people work hard to provide us with food. If students took the time to think about why they are grateful for all of the work that the dining hall does, the impressive achievements of the dining hall staff would not continue to go unnoticed. Will Harding said that he appreciates the dining hall for, “The effort that the chefs put in to provide a nutritious and delicious meal for people who eat plant-based diets, and the kindness that the kitchen staff spreads.” A genuine thought of gratitude like this one, in addition to getting to know the dining hall staff and understanding how hard they work, can go a long way toward helping The Thacher School’s dining hall be appreciated by students.