What it takes to feed a school: An interview with Quest’s food service director

Riley Klich and Hannah LeFebvre

Each day, hundreds of students pass through either Corboy Hall or the dining hall. Whether to buy breakfast, lunch, or an after school snack, there’s always a variety of food available. Alternating specials and frequent changes in food inventory keep students excited to come back. Although, what many students and staff at DePaul Prep forget is how much effort is put into making sure everyone is fed.

DePaul works with a company called Quest Food Management Services. The Quest employees work hard at DePaul every single day. In fact, they’ve grown to become a large part of the community itself. Ms.Williamson, food service director with Quest, said, “My favorite part of the day is service, especially breakfast, because it is my dream to be a barista and I like remembering students’ orders.” She especially enjoys talking and conversing with the students. The special bond between the students with many of the Quest employees is what makes their job so special. Just a simple conversation or smile in the hallway is enough to make someone’s day. 

In an interview with Ms.Williamson, she went in depth on what a day in the life of a Quest employee at DePaul Prep is like. Since Williamson is in a management position, she works a lot with inventory and paperwork. Her job is important because she is faced with the task of making sure that the school never runs out of food to serve. In addition, she creates the menus based on what foods members of the community are eating most frequently. When Williamson gets to school, she will “greet the staff and go to the breakfast bar to get the donuts and breakfast ready.” Then, she will “get the menu and production set up so we don’t run out of food.” 

The busiest part of the day for the staff is 8:30-10:30 in the mornings. The staff must make sure that there is enough food to be served and prepare it for lunch. Surprisingly, cooking the food doesn’t take long. What is most time consuming is  packing the food into containers and planning how it will be served. For Ms.Williamson, the end of the month is extremely busy because of inventory. She must check that there’s enough food and decide what to order while also using up what is left. 

Towards the end of the day, the staff cleans up by throwing out any garbage and cleaning the dishes. What can be used still is wrapped and any waste is counted. Areas are cleaned to be used again the next day. Sadly, any extra food cannot be given to the homeless because it can become contaminated after sitting out for too long. If any food were to make someone sick, they’d have the ability to sue. 

When asked what she wants the community to know about the job of her and her staff, Ms.Williamson said that, “We take a lot of pride in what we are serving. It takes a lot to have enough food and it is easier if money is loaded onto the account.” With that being said, it is easy to forget how much effort has been put into the food you decide to buy at lunch. Not often do you think about how much thought has been put into what is prepared for your selection. 

So next time you decide to grab lunch in the dining hall or stop for a quick snack in Corboy before school, remember the hard work members of our very own community have put into providing it. Say an extra thank you or flash a quick smile!