Notre Dame Food Services Director Awards

Author: Lisa Wenzel


January 6, 2012, Notre Dame Food Services (NDFS) announced the winners of the inaugural Director’s Awards.  These awards were created to recognize outstanding performance within campus food services.  Driven by employee feedback from both supervisors and staff, NDFS pursued means to further recognize our staff within food services.  The result was our three awards. 


The first, our Achievement Award, recognizes the achievement of a regular full or part time non-exempt staff member for improvements in productivity, problem solving, or finances, or positive customer satisfaction results.  Our recipient this year was selected from six well qualified food service staff members.  May Kwok, who is a Kitchen Associate at the South Dining Hall, out shined these finalists.  May has revolutionized the pizza section in our food market.  While consistently creating quality products, she finds creative solutions to potential problems in ways that wow the students.  Students line up for May’s cinnamon rolls which are made from product overage.  She leads her coworkers through teaching techniques and fine tuning recipes.


The second and third awards both recognize leadership.  These leaders need to be proven in exemplary work, teamwork, leadership, creativity, or organizational abilities.  One leader is honored from the non-exempt full or part time group and the other is an exempt manager.


Dave Studer, who is an Event Coordinator in Catering by Design, is our honoree for the non-exempt group this year.  After 25 years with the Concessions Department, Dave transferred to Catering by Design when concessions operations were outsourced to a vendor.  Dave has committed himself to the catering department and has become an asset to the team by jumping in and giving it 100%, even without a catering background.  Dave grew to become self-reliant in shift coverage in less than three weeks’ time, an area often done by managers a level above him.  Dave’s peers have provided nothing but positive feedback on how supportive and helpful he is on coverage as well as the positive experience it has been to work with him.  Dave takes the initiative to get things done and has been proactive with the Football Friday’s at the Eck Center expanding the partnership between the Alumni Association and Notre Dame Food Services. 


Jim Yarbrough, who will be retiring in March after over 20 years of service, is the ideal choice for the first NDFS Leadership Award for exempt staff.  Over the time that Jim has served at the University, he has done nothing half way.  He excels in each project and activity in which he participates.  Jim has been a leader for many new managers who have been lucky enough to spend time under his guidance.


Jim works as the consummate supporter.  His immense work ethic is only surpassed by his drive to support those with whom he works.  Jim will fight for you and for what is right.  Working as a true team player, Jim will assist anyone in need.  He has never hesitated to jump in and lend a hand or to share an observation.   In his efforts to improve the department, Jim has instituted a sustainable quality assurance program for the operational areas.  This effort will ensure that we are delivering consistent quality and will continue to be successful even after he retires.  Jim acts as Notre Dame Food Services’ sustainability chair.  In this role, Jim has lead the creation of a sustainable food plan, implemented a local purchasing program for NDFS (including guiding local vendors to bring together local farmers), and aggressively guides our food service staff to operate in more sustainable ways through activities such as recycling, waste reduction, and energy conservation.


Notre Dame Food Services is proud to honor these performers in excellence.