Director of Dining Services Dennis Pierce recently won what is widely considered the Academy Award of food service.
Each year, the International Facility Management Association gives out the Silver Plate Awards in nine categories. Pierce won in the colleges and universities category.
“My feet have not hit the ground yet,” Pierce said about winning the award. “I’m still pinching myself.”
Pierce said the award validates the success of UConn’s dining program.
“It shows what we do every day, but it also confirms that what we’re doing is a good job,” Pierce said.
The awardees are determined by a jury of trade press editors and previous award winners. The winners in each of the nine categories attend a formal dinner in Chicago. During the evening, the winner of the coveted Gold Plate award will be announced.
“It’s exciting for my team, it’s exciting for myself, it’s exciting for my family,” Pierce said.
Pierce said he was surprised by the outpouring of congratulations he received when he won the award. Pierce said he received over 150 emails and six phone calls.
“I had past recipients calling me saying, ‘Congratulations this is going to be the most amazing experience of your life, and here’s how to prepare for it,’” Pierce said. “I didn’t expect that.”
Pierce said the biggest positive change he has seen during his tenure at UConn is that Dining Services has become more accommodating for students with specific dietary needs and wants.
“In the years I’ve been here, students’ needs (and wants) have increased in so many different ways,” Pierce said. “Students have become much more educated.”
Pierce said that Dining Services “thrives on change.”
“Nothing ever stays stagnant,” Pierce said. “You’re always looking to what can we do different, how can we make it better.”
Pierce said Dining Services will continue to gradually change to align more closely with the Menus of Change Initiative. However, smaller schools have an easier time implementing these changes due.
“Because we are as large as we are, it’s not something (where) you can just flick a switch and it happens,” Pierce said.
Pierce said some changes will be the offerings of the Student Union Market and decreasing sugary drinks.
“For me it’s a breath of fresh air that we’re moving in that direction,” Pierce said.
Anna Zarra Aldrich is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @ZarraAnna.