A Toast to Dining Services

A Toast to Dining Services

Restaurant association award recognizes BC as 'Employer of Choice'

By Stephen Gawlik
Staff Writer

Boston College Dining Services has won a national award in recognition of its efforts to train, educate and support its employees.

BCDS Director Patricia Bando
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation selected BCDS for the Employer of Choice Award in the "On Site" division, which includes institutions that prepare and serve food and maintain dining facilities without the use of outside contractors. The National Restaurant Association is comprised of 870,000 restaurants and food service organizations employing 11.7 million people.

"I can't tell you how elated we are to get this news," said Dining Services Director Patricia Bando. "This is quite a recognition and it comes from the top."

Now in her eighth year at the helm of Dining Services, Bando says the award recognizes strides that the University has made in recent years to help her department's 200 employees develop their food service careers and enhance their skills, all the while providing "exceptional" benefits.

Bando cited several recent programs and developments that have transformed BCDS into an award-winning employer. From 1996 to 2002, she said, the number of Dining Services managers who completed a program in basic culinary training rose from five to 42. During the same period, the number of managers and employees with the industry standard "ServSafe" food safety certification grew from 12 to 125.

Where in 1996 BCDS offered four hours per year of training workshops and seminars, Bando added, last year it offered 38 hours. No Dining Services employees were certified in CPR in 1996, but last year 126 passed the CPR exam.

Other developments in recent years have included the development of the BC Dining Services Employee Council, the availability of courses in English as a Second Language and in personal finance and budgeting.

Along the way the face of BCDS has also changed, says Bando, citing the addition of senior citizens to the staff and an increase in the numbers of AHANA and inner city high school student employees.

Full-time Dining Services employees receive the same benefits as other University employees, including full health and dental insurance, tuition remission and participation in University retirement investing programs, among other benefits.

"That alone sets us apart from other food service operations," said Bando.

Statistics suggest that Dining Services staff are satisfied with their jobs, said Bando: The annual employee turnover rate for Dining Services is about 10 percent, compared to some areas of the food service industry which see rates as high as 70 percent.

"It's a really very nice place to work," said Senior Lead Cashier Heraldo Laguerre. "There's a lot of communication between managers and workers and they take good care of you."

Bando said that while the award was positive recognition for a lot of hard work, the efforts put forth by Dining Services to improve its workforce translates into a better experience for customers.

"All of these developments were done with the customers in mind," she said. "We are always asking ourselves how we can serve them better."


Return to May 8 menu

Return to Chronicle home page