May 25, 2022

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.

Campus Dining Job Fair

Campus Dining will be holding a job fair for full- and part-time positions on Saturday, July 9, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.  Anyone interested in attending the job fair must first complete a Sodexo job application online by going to Sodexo.BalanceTrak.com and searching “Fredericksburg.” Qualified applicants will be called to set up times for interviews on the day of the job fair.  Open positions include: cooks, food prep workers, utility workers, cashier, dining room attendants, food servers, catering wait staff and bartenders.  For additional information you mail e-mail Campus Dining at Dining@UMW.edu.

UMW Dining’s Flo Brown Wins National Award

Congratulations are due Carolyn “Flo” Brown, salad supervisor for UMW’s Campus Dining Services, for being selected as the Sodexo Experience National Winner for January 2016. Flo was first selected as the UMW Campus Dining award winner, and then she went on to win Sodexo’s district, regional and national competitions.  The national winner is selected from more than 600 nominees from colleges and universities across the United States, making this a tremendous feat.

Flo has been with Sodexo in food preparation for more than 17 years and exemplifies the excellence that Sodexo strives to provide for their valued guests – every meal, every day.  Roy Platt, general manager of UMW Dining Services, stated:  “We were faced with an incredible challenge in January when campus closed down due to the snowstorm. I am extremely thankful that we had Flo to help fill all the gaps in staffing. She does great work every day, but during this emergency situation she was absolutely outstanding!”

UMW Breaks Food Donation Record

The University of Mary Washington collected 4,729 pounds of food in its 2014 STOP Hunger Food Drive, breaking last year’s record of 3,500 pounds of donated food. The food drive donations are given to the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank to help feed the local community.   UMW Dining Services collects food donations UMW Dining Services, Sodexo, has sponsored the STOP Hunger Food drive every November since 2005. As part of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow commitments, the Stop Hunger program mobilizes Sodexo’s employees, consumers, clients and suppliers to join forces to end hunger. As part of the food drive, UMW’s Department of Athletics collected 3,242 pounds, a new record for the department. The softball team alone contributed over 1,100 pounds, the largest contribution from any UMW organization this year. UMW Athletics has been a partner sponsor since 2008 and also participates in a conference-wide food collection competition to see which university’s student-athletes can collect the most pounds of food in a one week time period. Collection bins were placed in all campus dining facilities, the Simpson Library and the UMW Bookstore. The bookstore supported the drive by giving discounts to customers who make food donations in the store. UMW Dining Services also sold discounted canned food items during the drive, and coordinated a curb-side collection outside Seacobeck Hall. Student-athletes solicited donations at local food stores and from neighborhood residents, in addition to weighing the donations and loading them into trucks for transportation to the food bank.

Thanksgiving Meals at Seacobeck

Campus Dining is hosting the annual Thanksgiving Lunch in the Faculty and Staff Dining Room at Seacobeck on Thursday, Nov. 20.  The menu will include Roast Turkey, Carved Ham and all the traditional favorites like candied sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. There will be Tofurkey and plenty of vegan sides available upon request for our vegan guests.  Doors open at 11 a.m. and service will continue until 1:30 p.m.  Cost for faculty and staff is $6 and $8.65 plus tax for guests.

We will also be hosting our Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 20 for students. Additional volunteer servers are needed from 6 to 7 p.m., and the dinner will be free that night for anyone assisting in the service! To volunteer please contact Rose Benedict at rbenedic@umw.edu.

UMW Dining Chosen for Sustainable Seafood Initiative

The University of Mary Washington’s Eagle Dining is a part of Sodexo’s new Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable seafood program. The program ensures that customers can trace the origins of their seafood to its original source. UMW is one of 11 locations in the Washington, D.C. metro area in the program, including Marymount University and George Mason University. Each of the participating corporate, university and public institutions obtained MSC Chain of Custody certification, a comprehensive traceability program that assures customers the seafood can be traced back through the supply chain to the fishery. “We have a unique opportunity to leverage the scale of our supply chain in an approach to seafood procurement that benefits consumers and communities alike,” said Deborah Hecker, vice president for sustainability and corporate social responsibility at Sodexo. “The future of wild caught seafood depends on recognizing and rewarding sustainable fishing practices. This program helps our clients and consumers do that.” Eagle Dining by Sodexo, a Virginia Green certified business, has served UMW for more than a decade. It received The Marstel-Day and Stafford Printing Green Frontier Award in 2013 for excellence in green business practices. Sodexo, Inc., provides a full spectrum of quality of life service in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., Sodexo, Inc., also funds all administrative costs for the Sodexo Foundation, an independent charitable organization that has made more than $17 million in grants to fight hunger in America.

Eagle Dining Wins Green Award

The University of Mary Washington’s Eagle Dining has been awarded The Marstel-Day and Stafford Printing Green Frontier Award, which celebrates excellence in green business practices. Eagle Dining was one of five local businesses honored at the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual gala on Friday, Feb. 1. Eagle Dining, which is managed by Sodexo, has undertaken many sustainability initiatives, including purchasing locally sourced seafood and produce, reducing the use of paper goods and creating a “Go Green” meal plan. Every “Go Green” meal plan purchased by students donates $5 to a sustainability grant fund. UMW students can apply for the grant funds to support on-campus sustainability efforts. Eagle Dining has also been named a green restaurant as part of the Virginia Green initiative. “Following the lead of our parent corporation, Sodexo, our team is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and providing highly sustainable and eco-friendly food services at the University of Mary Washington,” said Kori Dean, general manager of Eagle Dining. “It is extremely gratifying to have those efforts recognized by such a prestigious organization. We will continue to look for the practices that will help us to be not only one of the best campus dining operations in the Commonwealth, but also one of the most sustainable.” Several of Eagle Dining’s philanthropic efforts have included work with Dinners for the Homeless and STOP Hunger. In November 2012 the Eagle Dining sponsored campus-wide food drive collected more than 3,000 pounds of food for the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank and Presbyterian Food Pantry. For more information about Eagle Dining by Sodexo’s community outreach, visit http://umwdining.com/community/index.html. Local businesses Reality Realty Professionals, the Title Professional LLC, NSWC Federal Credit Union and the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative also received awards at the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce’s gala.

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News release prepared by:  Julia Davis

Holiday Food Donation Program Goes Curbside

The UMW campus and community food drive will collect non-perishable food items at the FRED bus stop outside Seacobeck on Monday, November 22, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Last year faculty, staff, students and the community donated more than 4,000 pounds of food in support of people in need. The annual event is sponsored by UMW Dining Services and Sodexo. All food collected will be donated to the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank and other local charities. Volunteer opportunities are also available to help collect the donated items. Call Rose Benedict at 1928, or contact her via e-mail at rbenedic@umw.edu.