How do you recognize the work Dining Services staffers do on a daily basis?

Freshmen Sam Hirschhorn and Svarina Karwanyun and sophomore Jericho Cervantes tried to answer that question  when they teamed up to make “Behind the Apron,” a documentary on UR’s dining staff.

“I saw it as a great opportunity to give the service workers the spotlight, basically, because many people just ignore them,” Cervantes said. “It is important to recognize them for the work they do to make sure this whole process here at the University flows properly.”

The eight-minute documentary brought together all parts of the dining experience, incorporating interviews with students, workers, and Director of Campus Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cameron Shauf.

Many dining staff members felt that relations with students were going well, though at times they have to initiate conversations with students.

“I think they’re pretty good,” Panda Express worker Scott Breitmaier said of relations with students. “I try to brighten up their day by asking them a few quick questions. It’s kinda like working at Disneyland.”

Cervantes, however, feels there is a disconnect with services workers that many students don’t realize exists.

The documentary, which premiered at the UR Stars in Service event Friday, was inspired by Hirschhorn’s past work at a summer camp.

“Before coming here I worked at a summer camp,” Hirschhorn said. “A huge part of our community within the staff was the […] food service staff, so I’ve always felt a close relationship to food service staff […] My inspiration behind this was to create a movie that not only explored an issue, but argued for a stance.”

The film stemmed from a project Hirschhorn, Cervantes, and Karwanyun had worked on for a class earlier in the semester. Hirschhorn estimates that he and Cervantes spent around 80 hours editing the film so it would be ready for the event Friday.

Hirschhorn hopes that the documentary will spur improvement in how students interact with dining workers.

“Over the course of working on this documentary, I have interacted with more dining workers than I did in the entirety of fall semester,” Hirschhorn said. “I believe that by reaching out, by interacting with people who don’t come from the same background as you, you start to grow. I think everyone can improve in their actions [with dining workers], regardless of if you are best friends with someone or if you’ve never spoken a word beyond ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to dining service workers.”

Dining Services staff were thrilled to have the recognition from students.

“I thought it was awesome for the students to recognize the dining service employees,” Douglass Dining Hall staff member Roxanne Blumfield said. “We truly feel appreciated and honored.”

In addition to the two showings of “Behind the Apron,” the well-attended event also included the unveiling of the UR A Star Award and the new UR Stars in Service website by Deputy Chair of the Campus Services Committee Alexandria Brown, a junior who is also a member of the Campus Times Editorial Board.

At the reveal, Brown thanked all UR’s service workers.

“If they didn’t feed us, we’d starve,” Brown said. “If they didn’t clean up after us, we’d be filthy. If the didn’t drive us everywhere, we’d get nowhere. We have individuals here who dedicated their lives to us.”

This event, Brown hopes, will be just the first of annual events recognizing University service workers. She hopes that there will be more media produced that can be featured at future events.

“Your dedication of your lives and time to our daily functions is just as important as any monetary donation that can be made,” Brown said in a later interview.  “I think that should be recognized and appreciated, and I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter folks like you every day.”

Tagged: Dining SA

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