Aramark serves meals to furloughed JMU dining associates

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 6:12 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — James Madison University’s (JMU) dining service, Aramark, has been serving meals once a week since April to its furloughed employees.

When COVID-19 hit, JMU had to close down, which impacted Aramark’s services. The company decided to give back to its employees during this tough time by serving a chicken dinner for four once a week to furloughed associates.

Joey Farrell, the food service director for the east side of campus, said that each Tuesday there is a line of cars around the loading dock behind the dining hall.

“They provide this wonderful service for our students everyday and we just felt it really important to give back to those folks and do whatever we could. Being dining services, food is what we know, so it was kind of a no-brainer to do this for our folks,” Farrell said.

Vicki Fulmer is an Aramark employee. She said that she has done the meal drive-thru since it started in April.

“My husband, he’s the chef, so he always does the cooking, so on Tuesday nights he always gets a break!” Fulmer exclaimed.

Each meal has four servings, which consist of a full chicken, two sides and an extra bags of snack foods.

Chefs from the dining hall volunteer their time and so far have passed out more than 9,000 meals, according to Margaret Arnold, who is the human resources manager.

“It’s something that we wanted to do for our employees, just to show, you know, we have a wonderful group of employees and we wanted to show our appreciation for them,” Arnold said.

It provides associates a time to ask Arnold questions and it also provides some distant interaction.

“They’re like my family and I do enjoy coming out here every Tuesday, because it’s like I see my Aramark family. So I can make sure they’re alright and everything’s going okay,” Fulmer said.

Throughout the pandemic, Aramark has sent a team every two weeks to volunteer for the Local Food Hub Fresh Farmacy program - packing up CSA boxes for the Fresh Farmacy: Fruit and Veggie Prescription Program, a partnership between Local Food Hub and six area health clinics that “prescribe” patients a biweekly supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, grown by Local Food Hub partner farms.

The company is hiring for the fall and will hold four job fairs throughout July.

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