Terance Jadhad Lee, general manager of retail operations
Faculty Student Association at Stony Brook Hospital
Stony Brook, N.Y.
Nominator: Angela Agnello, director of marketing & communications, Faculty Student Association at Stony Brook University and Hospital
Reason for Nomination: “Terance Jadhad Lee has been in the food service industry for almost twenty years. He has devoted his entire career to hospitality. He earned his Culinary Arts Professional certification at the Essex County Vocational School, where he mastered the areas of institutional food service, culinary arts, hospitality, baking and pastry making. This training gave him hands-on experience working in full-service restaurants, commercial bake shops, professional table service, front-of-the-house management, banquet and catering services and expertise in industry standards, safety and quality workmanship.
Currently, Mr. Lee works for the Faculty Student Association (FSA) at Stony Brook University Hospital as the general manager of retail operations, managing all aspects of patient, guest, visitor and employee foodservice operations. These venues include a restaurant cafeteria for employees and visitors as well as retail locations such as Convenience at the Brook, Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Panera Bread and the gift shop.
Mr. Lee is being nominated as an extraordinary frontline individual for Food Management’s Foodservice Hero 2021 award because he has gone to extraordinary lengths during the pandemic by going beyond the call of duty to serve patients, employees and visitors, making their day better every chance he gets.
At the beginning of March 2020, as many restaurants encountered supply chain shortages, Lee quickly prepared by creating new menus and developing backup plans in case certain ingredients or orders did not arrive on time. He boosted the inventory and met with the facilities team, loading dock staff at Stony Brook Hospital and food suppliers EBP and US Foods to secure multiple tractor trailers at the loading docks. The facilities team provided a special hookup for his electrical needs at the loading dock for the refrigerator and freezer trucks and two dry storage trucks for paper supplies and supplements. Lee was able to avoid supply chain interruptions and continually provide 98% of the food needed as well as all of the paper supplies. He maintained those trucks at the loading dock for four to five months.
With healthcare staff working long hours, it is sometimes difficult to go to the grocery store to stock up on pantry items and grocery essentials for home. Terance helped to launch a mini market just for healthcare workers so they could stop in before they leave for the day to pick up milk, bread, eggs, ready-to-eat meals, pasta, sauce, rice, fresh-sliced cold cuts, cereal, paper towels and other dry and perishable grocery items. His idea for the mini market was to increase morale and make it easier for healthcare workers so that after a long day at work, they don’t have to worry about one more thing when trying to get the basics for their families. The mini market has since grown into a full-service grocery store at the hospital where they not only offer grocery essentials but grab and go meals and noodle bowls.
During the pandemic, Lee maintained staff and adjusted schedules, always pitching in so that others could have time off to spend with their families. During the time period when the executive chef had left, Lee worked as a chef to ensure every COVID patient had their special meals. He worked closely with the hospital dietitian/assistant director of food and retail services at the height of the pandemic to customize up to six smaller meals per day for about six-hundred patients, seven days a week. Lee’s heart is in the right place. He always ensures that Stony Brook Hospital patients receive the best care and meals to nurture their recovery.
Terance Lee motivates his staff to work together. During the pandemic, he redeployed staff to other areas to assist with food production, prep work, meal train distribution, cleaning, sanitation and safety to keep up morale and enable employees to keep their hours and remain employed with their health insurance.
He stepped up in the time of need, making do with minimal resources and found creative solutions to complex problems. Lee put together exquisite holiday meal packages for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day so that hospital staff and frontline workers could enjoy a special multicourse meal that they could order in advance and pick up on their way home. Recently, he organized a weekly farmers’ market inside the convenience store so that local farmers and vendors could connect with employees to purchase local produce and products during their lunch break.
There were some challenges that Lee encountered, yet he still kept all retail services running smoothly. Foodservice employees are essential workers and there was a time when some of the foodservice employees were afraid to come to work because they themselves or someone in their home had underlying medical conditions and they took family medical leave for a time period. Other employees had to remain home to homeschool their children. Some staff were diagnosed with COVID-19 but contract tracing showed it was not contracted from their work environment. One employee passed away due to COVID-19. During these trying times, Lee was there every day filling in wherever needed, showing his love and appreciation for both patients and employees.
While managing the retail venues, Lee has been working with the construction staff and vendors on a $5.5 million renovation bringing major modernization to the main restaurant area with a live action station, new salad bar, pizza station and bakery area as well as an updated hot serving line. Lee helped launch a grand opening for the Mediterranean Nation retail store in August 2020 to provide heart-healthy meals such as Greek salads, hummus and rice bowls, gyros and shawarma.
Terance Lee is always out on the floor greeting healthcare workers, assessing the daily situation and encouraging and showing appreciation for the entire dining team. He has brought positive changes to the Stony Brook Hospital dining program including providing guest chefs, pop-up events, healthy choices, farmers’ markets and holiday menu specials for pickup to provide greater variety, better value and fresh, high-quality standards to exceed the expectations of everyone at Stony Brook Hospital.”