When the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) first sent students, faculty, and staff away from campus and toward remote learning certain people remained behind—the essentials. Physical Plant stayed on to create new policies for distanced classroom seating and cleanliness. People from many areas of campus including the School of Nursing joined the Reimagine Endicott Task Force. Residence Life jumped into action to move students out of the dorms and start planning for fall. Finally, employees like Timothy Langlois, Endicott College’s Executive Chef through Sodexo kept the College fed.
We assume the first question many will have is, who needed to be fed during that time? Actually, quite a few people did—among them staff and students who were unable to return home or were essential themselves.
“The staff and students that were here during the spring were greatly appreciative of Freddie [Melendez] and myself. They were happy to have options when so much was closed everywhere. It was great to be able to still work, plan, and spend some time with the student population while everything around us was, and is so very different. Sodexo and Paul Belski have been so awesome as well as Endicott and I can’t thank them enough!”
However, it is Langlois who we want to thank. He was one of the very first names Director of Dining Services (Sodexo) Belski mentioned where we asked him to define who his essential team members were. It is easy to understand why once you know what a working week was for him and his team.
Langlois explains, “Freddie and I worked opposite shifts and hours to limit contact. We were the only ones cooking, cleaning, doing dishes, and everyday projects to keep the students who were still here fed. We did not go out in public, we wore face masks and gloves everywhere, and we used a crazy amount of sanitizer. We each worked longer days—10 hours—some were longer and being alone the isolation set in a bit. I created menus that we had to execute for each meal period using products that we had on hand to limit deliveries and contact with the outside. We made micro meals—a lot of grab-and-go items—daily so they could have snacks back in their rooms.”
Belski says, “The Endicott community is very fortunate to have Tim as our Executive Chef. He is very committed to our success and his focus is always on our customers, especially the students that spend so much time with us in the Callahan Center. This was even more noticeable during the time when the College closed down and there were very few people on campus. Tim made sure that the small group of mostly international students remaining on campus were taken care of.”
He continues, “While most of the Endicott employees had the luxury of working from home, Tim came to work every day and made sure that those students had a place to eat, and in a small way interact. He got to know them, and they got to know him. It was obvious how much they appreciated all of his hard work and dedication. Since the end of May when the students left, Tim has spent a great deal of time making sure that we will be ready when the students return to campus. I am extremely proud of the job that Tim did during the start of COVID-19 and I am thrilled to be able to work with him as we plan to reopen.”
The process made living Langlois' own life distinctly different due to the need to uphold the safety of our Endicott on-campus population through self-quarantine. He says, “During that time it was very hard to retain any normalcy. Living alone and having to self-quarantine left my world very quiet. The students and faculty left on campus gave me most of my normalcy.”
He continues, “They helped to keep me in a routine and gave me a sense of purpose. They were my everyday interaction with society. My family and friends were quarantined just like me for their work, so the only people I saw were here. I did start to hike and walk as much as I could to keep in shape and try to work on myself. With everything closed, everyday things like haircuts, gym time, and talking to people kind of just stopped.”
But Langlois is an obvious optimist. If you get to meet him you will notice that despite his ever-present face mask, he is clearly smiling. He loves what he does and we love him for that. We are happy that his hands are among some of the ones helping to create a safe fall at Endicott.
He says, “For our team, the new school year will be first and foremost be about health, safety, and wellness. Keeping everybody safe is priority number one. Masks will be required as we enter the building; 6-foot social distancing will be in full effect in all areas; cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting will be happening everywhere, all the time. The biggest thing for our team will be adjusting to the new ‘normal’ and we will all be working hard to ensure that everyone has the same positive dining experiences as before. Each location will have changes in routine, changes in what we offer, and will be designed slightly differently to keep us all safe.”
For those curious as to what changes Langlois and his team at Sodexo has planned, here are some highlights:
- The Lodge and Gully's will have express lunch and dinners available.
- The floors and spaces will be transformed with 6-foot spacing floor decals and stations to keep everyone physically distant.
- Mobile ordering will be available through Bite and our grab-and-go offerings will be increased.
- Naturals will be offering some type of express simple serve meal for lunch and dinner
- The Callahan will offer reduced seating capacity based off the 6-foot social distancing rules and state guidelines.
- The Callahan will also have one-way entrances and exits which will be well-marked along with the expected flow through the dining room. Floor decals and arrows will mark the way to travel and where to stand.
- Each Callahan station menu is being revised and engineered to keep great offerings, but also keep speed of service in mind as well as no self-service.
- All Callahan meals will be served and plated with flatware and each station will have to-go containers for those who want to take meals to-go.
- Callahan beverages will be served to guests at our beverage stations, and as with everything else the amount of options will have to be reduced.
Langlois says, “Sanitizer will be everywhere, all our staff will be wearing masks, and there will be a lot more staff who will be here to clean and to serve our guests. There will be many changes and improvements to all our dining facilities. Everything we are doing is meant to keep everyone safe and happy.”
Langlois’ work ethic comes straight from the heart. He says, “I love food, I love people, and everyday life itself drives me. I was raised on a small farm in Maine where work, family, and food were very important. Growing up that way gave me a sense of self drive and I am always looking to improve and do my best at everything I do. The College setting is the best place for me as I’ve found that the food, people, and staff are very diverse. I learn from others and try to teach what I know to our staff.”
Langlois is coming up one his one-year anniversary as the College’s Executive Chef. He started last September during the week of President Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D.’s Inauguration. It seems he thrives during major events! Congratulations on your work anniversary Timothy! We are certainly overjoyed to have you as a part of our community.