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U.Va. Dining staff brave Jonas for students

Employees put up in hotels during inclement weather

<p>Newcomb remained open throughout the duration of Winter Storm Jonas.&nbsp;</p>

Newcomb remained open throughout the duration of Winter Storm Jonas. 

While most students spent Winter Storm Jonas bundled up inside, U.Va. Dining staff spent their days hard at work to keep all dining facilities in operation despite the inclement weather.

Since the winter storm prevented many employees from driving to work, Sadina Arnette, administrative assistant at O’Hill Dining Room, found alternate transportation.

“It was pretty much a combination of walking and catching rides,” Arnette said.

Despite travel difficulties posed by the inclement weather, dining halls remained open for the duration of the storm.

“I worked the whole weekend,” Arnette said. “[The students] were just as stuck as we were. It was essential we were here to provide a home away from home and make sure they had a meal, even if there is 20 feet of snow outside.”

John Miller, supervisor for Subway in Pav XI, has been working for U.Va. Dining for 12 years. Miller also caught the bus to get to work during the storm, but the commute was worthwhile to him.

“It’s nice seeing all of the familiar faces,” Miller said. “You already know what some students want when they come to the line, but then you also meet a lot of new people along the way.”

While some employees were able to walk or ride the bus to get to work, others lived too far away. In order to accommodate those employees, U.Va. Dining paid for rooms in a hotel close by. Anthony Carey, an employee at Fresh Food Co. in Newcomb, was one of the workers who was housed in a hotel during the snowstorm.

“They put us up and had us come in and keep the meals coming, so that way, the students can come in and eat,” Carey said.

Martha Tyler, assistant manager for Fresh Food Co., walked to work every day that weekend. Tyler has worked with U.Va. Dining for almost 20 years, both with Aramark catering services and in the Runk and Newcomb dining halls.

“It was important that our location in particular stayed open because [Newcomb is] close to where students live,” Tyler said. “We didn’t want them to have to walk over to O’Hill in the snow.”

When the weather is bad, the dining halls often have to operate with less staff than usual, and employees must rise to the challenge.

“Sometimes it gets pretty frustrating, but when everyone puts their heads together and works as a team, it goes by smoothly,” Carey said. “Everyone pitches in, everyone works together. We’re family here.”

While teamwork is a crucial element of a successful dining hall staff, Tyler also stressed the importance of flexibility under pressure.

“No two days are the same,” Tyler said. “Although it can be challenging, I’ve found that being able to keep up with constant change is necessary in order to grow.”

Carey emphasized another key ingredient to a successful dining hall staff: the students.

“Without the students, there wouldn’t be us. We like working with the students. We like to know their names, what their preferences are,” Carey said. “We’re here to represent and make sure that everyone is welcome, appreciated and [walks] out of here pretty happy.”