About 150 first responders working during Hurricane Sandy were provided with free meals by Princeton University's Dining Services. The meals for the first responders, students who remained on campus during fall recess and employees on duty were prepared and served by a small team of Dining Services employees who were able to make it to work.
"We always use the phrase, 'it's all about food, mood and attitude,'" says Dining Services Executive Director Stu Orefice. "Despite the challenges that they faced, our staff maintained a positive attitude, and our goal was to share that spirit through our service."
Orefice continued working even though his own house was badly damaged by the storm.
"We were operating with a lean but dedicated team that made literally hundreds of people happy — by serving nearly 9,000 hot and cold meals over five days," he adds. "When Frist Campus Center opened its doors on Wednesday, not many restaurants in town were open, so members of the Princeton community started coming in, and we were selling as much as we do when all our students are back."
Elsewhere on campus, hundreds of employees, many of whom were unable to reach their homes, worked in shifts to keep critical University functions running. The storm felled about 110 trees, which blocked roads and damaged vehicles, fences and other property. No injuries were reported.
Local residents whose homes lost power were invited to warm up, recharge phones and other electronic devices and use wireless Internet service at a hospitality center on campus.The hospitality center, which was opened at the request of the Princeton municipal emergency operations center, "was just one of a number of ways that the University looked to provide resources to the community during the emergency," says Kristin Appelget, Princeton's director of community and regional affairs.
The University, which also lost power from the public electricity provider, had to shut down many administrative and academic buildings and run critical functions on limited power from the University's independent cogeneration plant for more than 24 hours. The plant can generate 13 megawatts of electricity, which is significantly less than the maximum campus demand when all buildings are fully operational.