Lehigh University and Sodexo have been long-standing partners for many years, with Sodexo providing dining services to Lehigh University.
According to their website, Sodexo provides food and facility management services to countries around the world.
Lamar Johnson is a supervisor at The Grind, the cafe located in the Fairchild-Martindale Library (FML).
Before coming to The Grind, Johnson worked at Rathbone as a dish room supervisor.
By the end of this year, Johnson will have worked at Lehigh for 20 years, completing his fourth year as supervisor at The Grind.
Johnson said he has always had a very special emotion for Lehigh, because it is not only his workplace, but also his home.
When applying for the job, Johnson could tell the manager interviewing him wasn’t sold. He said once he told the manager about his friends who had been hired and worked there, he made an impression.
“So until now, I still like to make friends. I will try to remember the name and interest of everyone who chatted with me, which makes everyone like me very much,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he feels The Grind is more like a cafeteria compared to other cafes on campus, since there are so many students who spend time in FML.
Johnson’s biggest goal now is to become a manager and add TV and music to The Grind, which he hopes will turn the cafe into a place where students can relax and communicate.
Edmarie Berrios is a supervisor at Lower Cort in the University Center.
Berrios said she has been working at Lower for seven years — the only dining hall she’s worked at since coming to Lehigh. She has been appointed supervisor for less than a year.
“I’m mainly responsible for personnel deployment, and like Lamar (Johnson), I can wear many hats,” Berrios said.
Berrios said her father brought her to Lehigh to find a job. Sodexo had offered her a job in Florida, but she said Lehigh had already become her home.
As a mother of two children, Berrios said she loves the students like her own.
“My son is 15, my daughter is 11, and now my husband is at home taking care of the children, which I know sounds strange, but I’m a restless person and I like to work,” Berrios said. “I like to communicate with students, and I am willing to listen to their complaints about the pressure of schoolwork and the trifles of life. Maybe because I am a mother, I’m willing to help the students out of trouble.”
Students generally don’t complain much about the quality of the cafeteria, Berrios said, but some of them think the food should be more diverse and tastier, especially when compared to the cafeterias at other schools.
Berrios said she has made suggestions to add new dishes and more diverse options for students, but it is not up to her. She hopes Sodexo will create new menus, not because of poor food quality, but because students are ready for something new.
Just upstairs from UC Lower Cort is the Upper UC Food Market, where Chip Snyder serves as the supervisor.
Snyder has been in the restaurant business for about 50 years, and he said he has seen the American restaurant industry change over the past half century.
Snyder has worked for Sodexo at Lehigh University for eight and half years, and now his main workplace is Salsa Rico.
Snyder said he plans to work at Lehigh until he retires. He said although the salary of this job is lower compared to his previous job, the work is without pressure, which allows him to spend enough time with his family and to earn a stable income.
Snyder said Sodexo values and respects its employees highly.
“During the pandemic, the catering industry faced the hardest hit, and we were no exception,” Snyder said. “Sodexo provided us with the most basic life support and guidance, and promised that after the full opening, it would let us return to work instead of laying us off.”
Snyder said the Upper Food Market was understaffed for a while after the state fully reopened, but since then, about five student employees have been recruited, which has made work less stressful.