Justin Uy, operations manager
Sodexo/ Western Illinois University
Nominator: Tim Teslicka, marketing manager, Sodexo/Western Illinois University
From Colby Rhodd, General Manager, Western Illinois University…
“Currently, Justin is the operations manager on our campus for Sodexo. He works directly with me as the general manager overseeing all operations on campus, including residential dining, retail dining, catering, c-stores and concessions. Our retail locations on campus include Chick-Fil-A, Qdoba and Starbucks.
Our world in food service was quickly turned upside down on St. Patrick’s Day 2020, when the CDC announced the beginnig of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our staff was tasked with pivoting operations to an all to-go style of dining. Our entire model had to change overnight. Justin quickly went to work ensuring that all of our staff, students and customers were going to remain safe by continuing to dine with us.
As COVID-19 cases began to rise, our staff was challenged daily with making adjustments to our business model. Our campus made the decision to re-open a residential hall, which had been closed for several years, to quarantine students who had tested positive. While many foodservice providers were unable to, or simply chose not to, operate under these circumstances, Justin refused to allow that on our campus. Justin planned a menu with a QR code for these students to be able to order three meals a day, delivered straight to them.
The way Justin tackled the issue of having COVID-19-positive and quarantined students was nothing shy of amazing. He simply refused to allow these students to go without a hot and fresh meal. It was because of these actions that many parents personally reached out and thanked him for taking care of their kid.
Throughout this process, Sodexo also renovated our retail dining space in the University Union, upgrading to a modern retail line-up of Chick-Fil-A, Qdoba, and a Starbucks “We Proudly Serve” location. Justin’s ability to maintain constant communication with the general manager, contractors, and brand representatives allowed us to complete the renovation and open day one of the Fall 2021-22 semester. The staff training, coordination of vendors and support that Justin displayed was nothing shy of amazing.
Finally, Justin recently started our new CAP (Culinary Apprentice Program) on campus, targeting students with additional interest in foodservice. This process allows us to identify and target prospective students who show a desire to learn and grow in the foodservice industry. These students are given extensive hands-on training with our chef and executive chef, learning about allergen-free foods, cooking techniques and customer service.
I am incredibly blessed to have someone like Justin working on our team, both for Sodexo and Western Illinois University. His absolute refusal to deliver the best experience possible has allowed our entire organization and campus to serve our customers to the best of our abilities. Justin Uy is truly the definition of an ‘Unsung Hero’.”