February 24, 2024

Rose Benedict: Full Course Load

Dreams of lighting up Broadway on hold, Rose Benedict dabbled in TV production and the congressional legislature before settling in as a stay-at-home mom. It was her faith, she said, that steered her career path and led her – after the girls were grown – to Mary Washington and the business of marketing meals. But not immediately.

“Interestingly, they didn’t pick me,” Benedict said of her first vie for a job with UMW Catering. Her phone did finally ring … when the new hire didn’t show up.

One of UMW Dining Market Manager Rose Benedict’s main goals is to make sure students know the full spectrum of culinary options available to them. Photo by Lauryn Taylor.

Just desserts.

With UMW food management provider Sodexo for nearly two decades – in Seacobeck’s faculty/staff dining and the Underground’s Naturally Woodstock – she kept coming back to planning promotions. “I realized it was kind of my baby,” said Benedict, now marketing manager for all of University Dining.

That means grabbing students’ attention – whiteboards, QR codes, whatever it takes – and teaming with campus constituents to tie special events together with tastebuds. February means African, Caribbean, Southern soul food and Mardi Gras meals for Black History Month, and a surf-and-turf Valentine’s Day dinner that sold out in a hurry.

Benedict doles out the delicious details, herself, at the Dining Concierge Desk in the UC. And why not? She has an answer – or flyer – for everything. What is UMW’s Hen House? The area’s first “ghost kitchen,” operating completely online. Swipe Out Hunger? A campaign targeting food insecurity by serving thousands of meals to Mary Washington students. Choose to Re-use? A sustainability plan offering reusable food-storage boxes and totes.

Ah, but what about ambiance?

“The biggest thing I want students to know is that our team is absolutely dedicated to bringing the best food and customer experience to everyone here,” Benedict said.

Try doing that amid a global pandemic.

Sodexo didn’t skip a beat, she said, transforming the Top of the UC into a socially distanced Yellow Brick Road, with strategically placed arrows mapping a route from the salad bar to Simple Servings to Campus Grill, and so on.

Now, with the arrows removed, UMW Dining is back in almost full swing, Benedict said: “I’m so excited for the things we’re doing.”

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: Absolutely when I can help a student.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Making sure students understand what’s available to them – when we have to close, when the water’s shut off, when we have a free food sampling. And hiring – across the food service industry, the pandemic has been devastating.

Q: What’s your fave UMW Dining food station?
A: Chef’s Fair. I’m a sucker for the mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, meat loaf and candied carrots.

Q: With your work centered on food, what do you do for dinner at home?
A: I really don’t cook. I keep the microwave business alive.

Q: What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
A: I sang a solo at the First Lady’s Luncheon for Rosalyn Carter.

Q: Any mottos you live by?
A: “Before you speak, ask yourself three questions. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” I don’t always live up to it, but it’s a standard I aspire to.

University Dining Announcement

University Dining is hosting an Employee Appreciation Week February 14-18 for their team members.  Each day they’ll be surprising their team with a variety of treats and swag.  University students, faculty and staff are invited to contribute their own notes of appreciation or video messages for the team.  They may also sign one of the large “thank you” banners that are currently on display on the 2nd and 4th floors of the University Center.

Important Operational Note:  The Top of the UC, Panera Bread, and the Eagle’s Nest Market will be closed for one hour, 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm, on Tuesday, February 15th for a University Dining employee appreciation event. All other dining locations, Vocelli Pizza, Katora Cafe, Mein Bowl, and Hisso Sushi, will maintain their regular operational hours.

For additional information, contact Rose Benedict, 540-654-2169 or rbenedic@umw.edu.

Volunteer Servers Needed for Holiday Dining Events

Thanksgiving Dinner FlyerUniversity Dining will be hosting several special holiday dining events this fall, starting with the annual Thanksgiving Dinner on November 17th, and followed by the Winter Holiday Dinner on December 2nd and the Cram Jam Late Night Breakfast on December 6th, the first night of final exams. Since these special events draw many more guests than usual, it has become tradition here at UMW for students and members of the faculty and staff to volunteer to help serve the food at these events. This year, due to the tremendous labor shortage caused by the current pandemic, University Dining needs volunteer help more than ever.

Volunteers work in teams to prepare plates of food for the students as they come through the serving lines. It’s a great opportunity to have some light-hearted fun with the students, and to also enjoy some great food! All volunteers get their holiday meal free, and they will also receive a coupon for a free retail meal!

Anyone wishing to volunteer can sign up through a Google Volunteer Form. For additional information contact Rose Benedict, rbenedic@umw.com, or call the University Dining Marketing office at 540-654-5982.

Stop Hunger Campaigns Launch

Junior Caitlin O'Leary helps at last year's food drive.

Junior Caitlin O’Leary helps at last year’s food drive.

Stop Hunger University Dining/Sodexo, the University Staff Council, UMW Athletes, and local businesses and churches are partnering together to host our annual Stop Hunger Food Drive, from October 13 through November 1, and they are looking for your support. All of the food and monetary donations will go to benefit the UMW Eagle Resource Closet and the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank.

Anyone wishing to support the drive with food, monetary, or meal plan/Flex donations will find details on the University Dining web site.

Swipe Out Hunger Meal Plan  University Dining/Sodexo has donated 3,600 meals to create a new Swipe Out Hunger meal plan for the benefit of UMW students experiencing food insecurity. This new plan will be administered by the University Host, Chris Porter, with assistance from Leslie Martin, who coordinates the Eagle Resource Closet, Patty Land in the EagleOne Card office, and with Rose Benedict, the University Dining/Sodexo Swipe Out Hunger champion. Chris has established a Google nomination form that students can use to apply for meals through the Swipe Out Hunger meal plan. When approved, these students will have meals loaded onto their EagleOne cards, and they will be able to swipe in at the Top of the UC in the same way all other students who are on meal plans swipe in. There will be nothing in the process that identifies these students as being recipients of meal assistance. All information is kept confidential.

Everyone who has been working to bring this new assistance option to UMW is eager to have any and all students who need nutritional support apply for these meals. Please help spread the word about the availability of this new dining plan to your friends, colleagues and students.

For more information about applying for meals, contact Chris at cjporter@umw.edu. For more information about the Swipe Out Hunger program and Sodexo’s partnership with that organization, contact Rose Benedict at rbenedic@umw.edu.

If you, or a student you know, would like to apply for meals, please use this LINK.  It will take you directly to the application form.

Cultural Awareness Dining Events Make National News

A recent Islamic Cultural Celebration Dinner was planned and executed by Jordanian pastry cook Hind Abulali and included Saudi Arabian Kabsa and Lebanese kafta made with Halal meats.

A recent Islamic Cultural Celebration Dinner was planned and executed by Jordanian pastry cook Hind Abulali and included Saudi Arabian Kabsa and Lebanese kafta made with Halal meats.

Food Management Magazine, a national publication, recently published a feature story about the cultural awareness dining events that have been co-sponsored by University Dining and the James Farmer Multicultural Center and student cultural groups, for over 10 years. Dr. Marion Sanford and the dining team have worked closely together to create special dining events that celebrate the many diverse cultures of our UMW students. We’re very proud to have been recognized by Food Management Magazine for wonderful partnership in promoting diversity and inclusion through our dining events. We hope you enjoy this article.



University Dining Updates

All University Dining locations are open to everyone: students, faculty, staff and members of the public. In addition to the reduced prices for faculty and staff at the Top of the UC, Bodacious Burgers, and “Eagle Meals to Go,” University Dining is offering free or deeply discounted items for faculty and staff once each week. Details can be found on the “Dining Tips for Faculty and Staff” tab on the University Dining website.

Passover items, such as matzo, matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, charoset, beets, and hard-boiled eggs, will be available at lunch and dinner from March 27 through April 4 at the Top of the UC. For additional information contact Rose Benedict, University Dining Marketing Manager, at rbenedic@umw.edu or 540-654-2169.


Say ‘Thank You’ To Dining Workers

It's All Thanks to Them graphicThe University Dining management team wants to let all of the dining employees know how much their hard work, dedication, and friendly service are genuinely appreciated by everyone here at UMW. Almost every day we get comments from students or members of the faculty and staff about how much they love and appreciate our workers, and we’re hoping you’ll share those sentiments with them by writing “Thank You” notes, signing display banners, or submitting THX messages online in preparation for our Employee Appreciation Week that begins on March 1st.

Please stop by the Dining Concierge desk on the 2nd floor of the University Center during the week of February 22nd to sign our banner, write messages on postcards, or drop off your own notes of appreciation. There will be a host at the Concierge station between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day, but you can still drop off a note or sign the banner if the station is unattended. We know that many of you have favorite team members, but we do want all of our staff to get recognized.

Photo Opportunities! We’d love to take photos of you holding up messages of appreciation! You can do that, too, when you stop by the Concierge! We’ll put the photos up on our monitors and on EagleVision during the week of March 1st. During that week all of our staff members (we hope!) will be wearing buttons with their pictures on them (with no mask!), so you can see their great smiles! We invite you to give them lots of great feedback, and let them all know how much you appreciate their service.

We’ve got lots of special “thank you” events planned for them that week, from candy bars, to ice cream treats, to donuts and prize drawings, but your personal words of appreciation mean more to them than any prize we can give them. For more information, contact Rose Benedict, University Dining Marketing Manager, at rbenedic@UMW.edu or 540-654-2169.

University Seeking Feedback

There have been many changes in UMW campus life due to COVID-19 and the resulting increase in virtual learning and teleworking. To better serve the UMW community, University Dining would like to learn whether the faculty and staff are aware of the current dining options (especially those that are designed exclusively for the faculty and staff); whether these options are being used; and whether there are new or different options that might better meet dining needs and expectations.

Members of UMW’s faculty and staff are invited to complete the online feedback form in order to give their views on these and any other aspects of University Dining services. For additional information contact Rose Benedict, University Dining Marketing Manager, at rbenedic@umw.edu.

University Dining Reopens

All University Dining locations will be open and serving students, faculty and staff as of Monday, February 1st. As was the case last fall, all service will be carry-out only, but a few new options will make it easier to get food without waiting in long lines.

Grubhub orders for Top of the UC meals no longer have to be placed one day in advance. Lunch orders are accepted until 8 a.m. and dinner orders are accepted until 2 p.m. each day. You may place orders up to 24 hours in advance, select your desired service time, and pick up your meal in Chandler Ballroom, avoiding any lines at the Top of the UC.

Eagle Meals to Go, featuring hot meals, packaged and ready for a quick pick-up, will debut in the Eagle’s Nest Market on Monday. The menu includes Mashed Potato Bowls, Mac & Cheese Bowls, and Entrée Plates, with selections changing weekly. The debut week menu includes Four Cheese Mac & Cheese with Bacon,  Mashed Potatoes with Popcorn Chicken, and a Rotisserie Chicken entrée plate with mashed potatoes, gravy, and seasonal vegetables.

Discounted Meals for Faculty & Staff at the Nest: Members of the faculty and staff can now get “4,5,6 Meals” at the Eagle’s Nest. These options include the “Eagle Meals to Go” items, Bodacious Burgers, and Value Meals (special combos normally reserved just for students with meal plans). Details about this new offer and other dining tips for members of UMW’s faculty and staff are on the University Dining web site through the new Faculty and Staff Dining Tips tab. TIPS

For additional information contact University Dining Marketing Manager Rose Benedict, rbenedic@umw.edu or 540-654-2169.

Ranking Highlights UMW’s Commitment to Sustainability

The University of Mary Washington has earned a spot on a list of the nation’s most environmentally conscious schools. The ranking appears in the 2021 edition of The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges, which profiled 416 U.S. schools demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, based on student academic offerings and career preparation, as well as […]