Ida Couldn’t Destroy Dillard University’s Flavor
Posted By: Andre Williams on March 12, 2022 |
Blog Post by: D'Juan Hopewell
Ida provided a very unwelcomed surprise to Dillard University students starting the Fall 2021 semester. The Category 4 storm left over one million people in the New Orleans area without power and forced Dillard to shut down operations for several days. But today, Dillard is stronger than ever and once again the campus is filled with student life.
Much of the “tea” at universities can be heard around the meeting places where students frequently socialize. And at Dillard, like many other universities, this socializing is usually centered around food. Thanks to the men and women of Sodexo, who manage Dillard’s dining services, the tea is now stronger, and the food is more flavorful than ever.
The Fall semester began with Sodexo’s opening of the WOW American Eats in the Dillard Student Union. The grand opening was held just before Ida arrived and students were able to get a taste of the award-wing wings created by the Louisiana founded café. Then Ida came.
“For as long as I've attended Dillard there has been a long-standing fight to help get outside retail food spaces on campus,” said student Andrew Logan, Mr. Dillard 2021-22. “And when this school year started, we had just that! WOW wings and fries opened at the beginning of the semester over in the Student Union and the reception was overwhelming.”
Prior to Ida’s landfall, the Sodexo team worked hard to provide meals for students who sheltered in place for the storm.
“Myself and about 100 students and faculty stayed behind on campus during the storm. The dining hall ensured day and night that we were fed. While most folks probably would have chosen to go home, they stayed behind and risked their lives to ensure we had hot meals,” said Logan.
Ida presented several crippling challenges but Scott Price, Sodexo’s dining services General Manager at Dillard, was determined to deliver a first-class experience to students returning after the storm.
“When first stepping onto Dillard University Campus it was easy to see the passion this team has for the Dillard community,” said Price. “It was important to pick up the pieces to get the dining program back together after the storm for the students and the staff. We wanted to have the students come back and not feel the impacts of the lost caused by Ida.”
Dillard’s dining hall was immediately renovated after the storm.
This project helped to send the message that Ida would not destroy the spirit of a new school semester, and instead revealed how Dillard would emerge even stronger.
General Manager Price and his team worked hard to ensure that students returning after the storm would find a sense of comfort and support in their on-campus dining experiences. The team coordinated a Mardi Gras-themed ‘Welcome Back’ dinner for students and planned a series of other activities and events. Students attending the fall semester enjoyed pumpkin carving, a sushi lunch day, and were even treated to fresh fruit and vegetables during a fall-themed farmer’s market.
“I was a little worried about gaining a new General Manager for the dining hall. However, Mr. Scott came in and made us feel as though he has been there for 20 years,” said Logan.
General Manager Price also helped organize a healthy competition between Dillard and Xavier University students—the “Fight Against Hunger Food Drive” battle to benefit a New Orleans food bank. Despite the tragedy of Ida, students at Dillard enjoyed a semester rich with experiences and giving back. Of course, the food is always an experience as well.
Sodexo Chef Dennis Dunn has become a popular fixture on campus for his creative plant-based dishes, and this Spring there are plans to bring even more healthy options to students, in the form of a mindfulness station. In addition to the new dishes that will appear on the menu, Dillard students can also look forward to the new Starbucks that will open at the Will W. Alexander Library.
Ida disrupted Dillard, but it couldn’t destroy it. A Category 4 storm, taking place during a pandemic, is a tall order for any school. But Dillard is more vibrant than ever.
“With a month filled with displacement and inconsistency Kearny Dining hall remained the same and reminded us with red beans and fried chicken on Mondays that somethings will never change. As a student I appreciated the consistency and comforting feeling those consistent meals brought me,” said Logan.
Food and community are at the heart of the school’s continued vibrancy, which is appropriate for an institution in the great city of New Orleans. The Sodexo team understood the assignment and worked tirelessly to support the historic HBCU.
“Our Staff, the faculty and staff of the university and the students alike suffered so much during this time, and we just wanted to create that safe and familiar place we all know and love. It is truly something said when you say Dillard Strong!” said Price.
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