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A Seat at the Table

February 12, 2019

Michael Quackenbush, Director of Dining Services at Lasell College

There is no such thing as a "typical day" in the life of Michael Quackenbush, the director of dining services at Lasell College. Each day is like a meal: always different, and always a challenge that Quackenbush is ready to face head first. From meeting with students to training staff and working with the College on ways to innovate and incorporate technology into the dining program, Quackenbush works to ensure that all guests dining on campus are satisfied with the food selection, quality, and service.

This could be a daunting task for some, but Quackenbush enjoys the ever-changing, fast-paced, workplace.  

"You need to be flexible and willing to change direction at any given moment. When I'm not in the front of the house working with our staff and speaking with students, I'm typically in meetings with various departments or meeting with my team about menus," said Quackenbush, who started working in food service at age 15. As a young teen working in his neighbor's local restaurant, he learned the skills needed to adapt to changes, which has proved helpful in serving a diverse campus clientele.  

"We love coming up with innovative ideas and thrive off of customer feedback and interaction," he said. "We are here for the Lasell students, and we strive to create an environment that is tailored to their wants [and] needs."

Director of Dining Services Michael Quackenbush

It is not easy to try and satisfy everyone, but Quackenbush and campus dining services provider Chartwells gain insight through student interactions and feedback from Text2Solve, Foodie Feedback surveys, and a Happy or Not Kiosk. They also meet and collaborate with student groups to offer specific foods that are relative to their needs and interests.  

The department's open attitude toward change, led by Quackenbush, was recognized by Opportunities for Inclusion, a local organization that is committed to the inclusion of all people with disabilities, for working with and hiring employees from their program.

"It was great to see how proud these individuals were to be included as equal partners in our commitment of manufacturing, producing, and delivering food and services to Lasell College," said Quackenbush. These principles -- change, adaptability, and inclusion -- are the future of dining, and Quackenbush believes that the industry will continue to evolve with its creativity and desire to meet peoples' dietary wants and needs.  

"Since the beginning of time, food has brought people together to gather in social groups, to collaborate, and to converse on life," he said. It is that consistency that grounds Quackenbush in a job in which no two days are alike.

Regardless of how challenging a day may be, he is reassured by the fact that, at the core of his work, people will always gather around to eat together.  

Photos by Margaret Brochu '20