I am HERE: Preparing and delivering meals to students in isolation and quarantine

Author: Carrie Stone, NDWorks

When Bev Harbor, a 30-year banquet captain at the Morris Inn, stepped into her new role as a COVID-19 food coordinator it was second nature to her.

“She plays a lead role in caring for students right now and treats them like they’re her own,” said Jessica Reno, director of food and beverage at the Morris Inn and Notre Dame Conference Center. “Whether it's a last-minute dietary question or  9:30 p.m. request that comes in after hundreds of meals have been delivered that day, Bev is the one who says ‘I’ll take care of it.’” 

Reno oversees the 60-member food preparation and delivery team at the Morris Inn. The hotel’s kitchen is one of three on campus that prepares and delivers meals, three times a day, to students who are isolated or quarantined on and off campus. 

“Our team is thrilled to help the University in this way. There’s a real sense of pride in this work. The closer we get to students — especially by delivering food to them — the more we feel like we’re serving the mission of Notre Dame,” Reno said. 

In addition to the Morris Inn kitchen, the Center for Culinary Excellence (CCE) prepares and delivers cold food items such as salads and sandwiches and Chef Greg Larson leads a team that prepares hot breakfast and dinner at North Dining Hall. 

For Sean Wojtkowski’s team at the CCE, making and delivering meals to multiple locations has required new processes and increased the team’s production tenfold. 

“We’re not just delivering cookie-cutter meals door to door. Forty percent of the meals have nutritional and dietary requirements, which means special care is put into preparing them and making sure the right meal gets to the right door,” said Wojtkowski, operations and logistics manager at the CCE. 

“I’m very proud that the team is committed to getting each meal right,” he said.  “I  appreciate how my staff reports back each day with what they learned so we can improve processes.” 

Students have also shown appreciation of the team’s work. “Getting little thank you notes from students is really nice,” Wojtkowski said.

The campus kitchen teams continue to deliver above and beyond during this challenging time, including special deliveries of candies for students celebrating birthdays, as one mom requested recently. 

“After watching this situation unfold from the sidelines, we’re really excited to help students get through this,” Reno said.

Originally published by Carrie Stone, NDWorks at ndworks.nd.edu on September 04, 2020.