Food is fuel for learning minds, and Cedarville stomachs are fed in one main area: the dining hall in the Stevens Student Center.
The Cedarville University dining hall goes through a lot of food in one day. One employee, Chris Hubosky, said that in a single dinner, workers might put 500 pounds of smoked beef onto the serving lines to feed the Cedarville University community. With such a huge task, it takes a lot of effort to make sure food is on the line in a timely manner. Cedarville’s 32 non-student dining hall workers and personnel are up to the task. Here are four of the people who are instrumental in running the food-powered engine of the Cedarville community.
Monte Veatch is the food service director. Students and visitors may recognize his name from the comments and announcements pinboard by the dining hall exit. Veatch supervises both the dining hall and the Hive downstairs. Veatch said this coming November marks his fourth year of service on Cedarville’s campus, though he has been in the food service business for 20 years.
Veatch started in this career field during high school, when he got a job working at a Village Inn. After graduation he went to culinary school and then entered the career, initially working in restaurants. Veatch transitioned from restaurant to campus food service to have more time with his family. Veatch has been married for 28 years and his daughter turns 12 this month.
Despite different work hours than restaurants, working in Cedarville’s dining hall can still be difficult. Veatch said much of his job involves logistics: making sure the dining hall has enough food and that all of the dining hall team does the best job they can.
“It’s different every day as far as trying to keep all the balls in the air,” Veatch said.
Veatch explained that about 350 students work in the dining hall and scheduling them requires a lot of logistics. He said he and his team realize the students come to Cedarville to go to school first and to work second and they take that into account with their work schedule. But even with the challenges, Veatch said he enjoys his job.
“I’m a people person,” he said. “I enjoy the dynamic of managing people and get the group to achieve a goal.”
Another one of the dining hall personnel who works a lot with student scheduling is Rebecca Howarth, often referred to as Becca by the student workers. Howarth, who grew up in the nearby Subina-Wilmington area, works as the service manager for the dining hall. In this role, Howarth is involved in hiring, training and maintaining student labor as well as in watching the front of the house.
Howarth came to Cedarville in 1994 as a part-time cook. She said she came as a single mom and looked into working with Pioneer College Caterers, the caterers behind the dining hall’s food service because of its family friendly approach. As her two daughters got older, Howarth began working full time. Both her daughters are now grown and Howarth has three grandsons, ages 2, 3 and 6.
Howarth has worked in other secular food service places, but she said that Cedarville University is different because of its atmosphere.
“The Cedarville University community is unique: God-focused and caring. I feel like that’s a really valuable thing. I appreciate people who come in and are just really encouraging and kind,” she said.
Howarth told a story exemplifying one such act of kindness.
“I was pushing a cart really laden for a banquet. A student just took time to say ‘Hey, can I help you with that?’” she said.
Howarth said she feels working in such an environment is a privilege, and she hopes that people at Cedarville appreciate their surroundings.
Brightman started working in the dining hall while it was in the previous location, in what is now the Tyler Digital Communications Center. The serving line was L-shaped and located in the same area as the gymnasium. Brightman said workers could sometimes watch a basketball game while cleaning up.
Brightman said she has played a variety of roles during her time in the dining hall, including pots-and-pans, morning and evening prep and her current position with the salad department.
Brightman started working in the dining hall to pay for college. She said she wanted to become a nurse, but after working in the dining hall, she felt this was the career field for her.
“I don’t know if I could really give someone a shot,” Brightman said. “So, I’m here, and I’ve felt like this is where God wants me, or I wouldn’t stay.”
Brightman said she has really enjoyed working with the students over the years. She still receives postcards from workers from 1977. She recommends every student spend at least some time working in the dining hall.
“If everybody worked here, they’d see how it is. They’d appreciate it more,” she said.
Brightman herself said she is not sure how much longer she’ll stay in the dining hall. Her adopted son, Brian, just got married in February, and Brightman said once she has grandkids, she’ll retire.
Family is also important for the dining hall’s executive chef Chris Hubosky. Hubosky has been married for 14 years and has two daughters, ages 5 and 8, who are involved in soccer, cheerleading and dance.
“They keep us busy,” Hubosky said. “I love ’em to death.”
Hubosky also stays busy with his role in the dining hall. Despite having the title of chef, Hubosky said he works with purchasing and inventory, catering events and writing menus. He does not do the hands-on cooking except for banquets, but he said he serves pretty much as Veatch’s right-hand man. Hubosky has been with Pioneer College Caterers for 15 years and Cedarville University is his fourth school.
“I kind of wanted to get back in working more with the kitchen, or so I thought,” Hubosky said. “That’s why I took this position.”
But at the actual stove-top or not, Hubosky said he enjoys working in food service. He has been working in the industry since college. He said he feels it is in his blood.
“You gotta really enjoy it to do it daily and as many hours as we put in,” Hubosky said.
Hubosky explained that food service is often looked at as a last-resort source of employment. Pioneer College Caterers strives to be restaurant quality, but Hubosky said that is difficult to do in an institutional setting, especially as filling positions can be a challenge.
“We keep doing the best we can and keep raising the bar,” he said. “I’m looking for better things to happen each semester.”
Hubosky said he appreciates the team of people that he works with on a regular basis. He said his favorite part of working at Cedarville is the comradery of the staff that he gets to work with, develop and rely on.
“The food is really secondary to that,” Hubosky said. “The people are really what makes the kitchen function.”
The team of people behind the counter at Cedarville University’s dining hall know that they have a mission beyond just making large amounts of food. The food service business is actually about people and reaching out to the customer.
“God has a thing for all of us to do,” Veatch said. “I kind of feel this is my mission field.”
He said he feels his role in food service is to work with young people and students and make a positive impact on their lives, or at least serve good food in a way that assists the students to go out and achieve their goals.
Rebekah Erway is a junior English major and reporter for Cedars. She is a diehard Disney, Veggietales, and Lord of the Rings fan and enjoys speaking in a British accent.