Commons Appreciation Day: Andover Community Celebrates Paresky Staff

Cheers erupted as players of Lotería, a game similar to bingo, won prizes during Commons Appreciation Day, an annual event in Upper Left of Paresky Commons on Wednesday.

The event, held in honor of the Paresky Commons staff, recognizes the effort and dedication they give to create quality meals for the Andover community every day.

“The people at [Paresky] do what they do for you. You can do a job minimally, but they don’t. They do it because they care deeply about what you all want. And getting it and providing it for you in a timely way. I think that the student sentiment is right on target – saying thank you for that. It’s a very, very hard job,” said Aggie Kip, Nutritionist Counselor, in an interview with The Phillipian.

Miguel Agulio prepares a dish at the stir fry station.

Commons Appreciation Day was hosted by Alianza Latina, a club that celebrates Latino heritage, on Wednesday afternoon. Co-Head Angie Lara ’16 finds the event to be a great opportunity to show gratitude to the Paresky staff.

In an interview with The Phillipian, Lara said, “To me, it really just is an amazing opportunity to give back because I identify as a Latina. And the majority of the workers in Commons are also Latino, so just every single day essentially I get to see them, but there’s never really enough time to say thank you. You’re always rushing around and having to do work, so this is just a really good opportunity for me personally, and a lot of other people, to give back and say thanks and show them that we really appreciate them.”

Lara helped coordinate the event and organize the gifts that were given to the Paresky staff. This year, about 50 people attended.

“As a club, we get together these nice little goodies, and, as a club, we try to say, as best as we can, thank you to the Commons workers because they just do so much for us,” said Lara. “This year we were able to give each individual worker a bunch of little jars in addition to a giant poster which a bunch of students signed. And we typically also hold games and raffles for them.”

Before Alianza Latina took on the organization of the event, Kip ran it herself to demonstrate the community’s gratitude toward the Paresky Commons staff.

“For years, I would go every term and bring something fun and say thank you from all of us,” explained Kip. “But it was just me, and it wasn’t as big and it wasn’t so student-centered. Now, of course, I no longer have to do anything because the students do it instead, and I think that’s far more meaningful.”

“By and large, students care deeply about the people who work in this building, and they express that,” Kip continued. “And I think that’s so nice. Because who doesn’t want to hear ‘Thank you’? And who doesn’t want to hear ‘We appreciate you’? We all need to hear that.”

Kip cites one of the challenges the Paresky Commons staff faces as anticipating the needs of Andover community.

“It’s a long day, rain or shine, snow, sleep…. And you know it’s different. It’s very different because [students] are here all the time, but [the Paresky team is] not. It’s a very different world… They are trying to anticipate [students’] needs and make sure they are meeting [those] needs,” said Kip.

Paul Robarge, Senior Food Services Director of Paresky Commons, believes that the Paresky team contributes to Andover’s strong food services program.

“The team makes an enormous difference. We have an amazing group of chefs that are very, very passionate about foods. And we have a community that is very open to new and exciting things. That all put together makes for a great program,” said Robarge.

While the event will not happen again until next year, students and faculty of the community continue to appreciate all the efforts of those working in Paresky.

“Commons is really different from the cafeteria at my old school,” said Abby Enes ’18 in an interview with The Phillipian. “At home, not only was the food not very good, but the people weren’t very friendly. Here, everyone is really nice and they want to pro- vide you with food you actually enjoy.”

Paresky, which is run by a team of around eighty people, serves approximately 3,400 meals a day. Many people within the operation have been at Andover for a long time.

“We promote from within. I would say half of our workforce has been with us for over 20 plus years, and have had, probably around five to seven jobs each,” said Robarge.