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New food service changes staff positions and redesigns dining

Bon Appetit replaced Mills College’s former in-house dining service on July 30, 2007, leading to several changes.

Now controlled by the Palo Alto-based food management company, all of Mills’ dining services employees were required to reapply with Bon Appetit or else not continue working with Mills.

According to the Office of Employee Services, formerly Human Resources, only four out of the nearly 40 Mills dining staff members were not rehired by Bon Appetit.

It was not disclosed how many of those four sought employment at Bon Appetit.

David Wilson, the Bon Appetit manager for Mills, said that most employees who weren’t hired worked at Mills a short time.

He described a three-step process undertaken when the company provides for a new school: “First we restructure the food programs, then we reevaluate staffing and from there pick the best candidates to work in [a particular] program.”

The company interviewed employees in the weeks following the announcement on the switch, and interpreters were available upon request.

Last year’s Tea Shop manager, Steven Deresh, was among those who were not hired.

Roselia Zendejas, who had been at Mills for nearly 20 years, received the position instead of Deresh.

Deresh served Mills for only one year.

Dorothy Calimeris, assistant to Auxiliary Services and former catering manager, said Mills discussed the prospect of contracting out its food service for about a decade. “Bon Appetit’s name surfaced because it’s one of the best; it’s providing a lot of the same services that Dining Services wanted to provide, so it was a good fit,” she said.

Food service employees first heard of the switch to Bon Appetit on June 1, 2007.

The next day, Associate Vice President for Campus Planning and Facilities Karen Maggio and Ramon Torrecilha, executive vice president and then acting head of the College, conducted a meeting with the food service employees.

This meeting also used representatives from Bon Appetit, including Wilson and Bon Appetit District Manager David Whalen, to answer questions from employees.

Torrecilha informed students of the change in dining services through an email dated June 27.

Before the takeover, a transitional phase was already taking effect. This phase included painting portions of the inside of Founders Commons blue and revamping the Tea Shop, which now has completely new furniture and signs.

Bon Appetit services many private colleges in the northwest and beyond, including Dominican University of California, Reed College, Whitman College and University of Redlands.