Building Community One Meal at a Time

Janeen Smith, the Assistant Director of Food Service, has been building community at George School through food—feeding our students, faculty, and staff for the past three years. She manages all things front of the house in the Dining Room, located in Main building. She balances business operations, payroll, scheduling, and even does tech support for the kitchen. Janeen reflected, “My first time coming to campus to interview for my role, I was able to make it to the Dining Room without asking for directions, passing the first test. Now, three years later, I am the kitchen mom, the person that everyone goes to for help with anything. During the school year, my primary responsibility is to manage the Dining Room and staff. In the summer, when students are not on campus, I am the only staff in the Dining Room and serve meals to campers and faculty who remain on campus.”

Of all her responsibilities, Janeen said that her favorite is working with students who are assigned to Shift. “Shift is an integral aspect in teaching students the importance of stewardship,” explained Janeen. “George School, through the Shift experience, has built a great learning tool to educate students to all the work that goes into their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They learn about the origins of their food, get to see how the food is prepared, and build respect for the people providing every aspect of food service. Shift also teaches students to respect the building and the importance of keeping our spaces clean and well-maintained.”

“Managing Shift students is by far the best part of my role,” said Janeen. “The students at George School are eager when they show up for Shift and put a lot of effort into doing a good job. Like any job, students have their favorite and least favorite assignments. I would say, overall, students seem to like being in the dish room because it keeps them busy, making the shift go by quickly. Their least favorite job is sweeping the Dining Room and cleaning tables. No one likes to clean up messes left behind by other people,” said Janeen.

When asked about dessert, Janeen said, “Dessert is such an important aspect of any meal—especially for students. Even dessert at George School comes with history and tradition. Everyone’s favorite dessert at George School is definitely sticky buns. Our baker, Pensie, can spend an entire shift making nothing but sticky buns and still not make enough. Blondies are a close second, but sticky buns have been the community favorite every year for the three years that I have been at George School and for much longer than that. Alumni who visit campus always ask about sticky buns. They are a mainstay at big alumni events. There is just something special about a George School sticky bun.”

Janeen enjoys working with the George School community and coming to work every day to make sure that the community is well fed. “It’s the people who keep me at George School and who make it easy to wake up and come to work every morning,” said Janeen. “George School is such a nice and welcoming family-oriented environment. The community is so friendly and appreciative of everything we do for them and because we see them three times a day, we get to know their likes and dislikes. For example, I know that key lime pie is one of [Director of Admission] Kim Major’s favorite desserts. On the last day of school, we served key lime pie and I did not see Kim. I know she is busy, and I did not want her to miss out, so I walked a slice of pie over to her.”

“Food is a connector and brings people together. We try to make every meal a memorable experience,” continued Janeen. “Our meal cycle runs six to eight weeks, and we try to include a little bit of everyone and every culture represented at George School. The community is really diverse, so the food needs to reflect that. Our goal is to provide options so that anyone that walks into the Dining Room on any given day can find something they will enjoy. Everyone who works in food service does so because they want you to enjoy the meal they are serving. We do not serve anything that we would not eat ourselves. The food at George school is truly made with love!”