To the editor:
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the tireless and dedicated work of the men and women who provide food services to the campus. My daughter is a freshman at Lewis & Clark. Two days after I flew home from getting her settled in, she was in an emergency room in Portland with a previously undiagnosed medical condition. You can imagine how difficult this was; she was 1,000 miles away from home, already dealing with all of the normal challenges of adjusting to life on campus and we are suddenly faced with the worst case scenario every parent fears.
As we navigated the twists and turns of the medical landscape, and my daughter battled the technological challenges of virtual classes, and we both adjusted to the COVID-19 related curve balls, we began to feel overwhelmed. At every turn there appeared to be obstacle after road block after challenge. My daughter was in pain daily, struggling to manage her condition. It became clear that certain foods were triggers for worsening symptoms, and others could actually be helpful. We did not realize it then, but this would become the key. My daughter contacted Catering Director Sara Hill and Executive Chef Michael Palmer who sat down with her to get a list of foods she could not eat so that they could develop meals that she could eat safely.
I cannot emphasize enough how huge this was. The world, up to this point, had been a spiral of despair: daily pain, the strain of COVID-19, poisonous air with the fires and technological snafus that impacted classes. But when Hill and Palmer offered something that would allow my daughter to take control of some aspect of her health, it felt like the most extraordinary gift.
And really, the men and women who provide food for the campus deserve kudos even separate and apart from this amazing responsiveness. They have continued to provide nutritious and healthy food to the students, faculty and staff of LC, despite the hazardous air caused by the fires, and they have pivoted with grace and alacrity to adjust to COVID-19 quarantines and requirements. And because they are part of the infrastructure, the vast network of dedicated workers who keep the lights on and the campus humming, they are often not recognized for the really amazing work they do every day.
I am grateful to the LC community for being so responsive and supportive in general, but I am especially indebted to Hill, Palmer and the men and women in food services who will say “just doing my job” even as they perform feats of skill and dedication multiple times each day as they feed, nurture and support the wider community.
Elizabeth Maland is the parent of an LC student.