Sodexo, Inc, Centre College’s on-campus food service provider, is a company dedicated to excellent service, corporate citizenship, and fighting hunger. These pillars of their mission all stem from one simple goal – to make every day a better day. Mike Nagorka, General Manager for Sodexo at Centre College, has been with the company for 24 years. Beginning as a student manager in college, he became a project manager for much of North Carolina upon graduation and later was promoted to oversee projects in the southeastern region. After spending 16 months on the road troubleshooting accounts across the country, including the one at Centre, he and his family decided to make the move to Kentucky officially in May 2011.
“Once I weighed everything, Centre just came to the forefront as a place to find balance. Danville is a Norman Rockwell painting come to life,” Nagorka says. “President Roush, Susie and the senior leadership made it seem like a very family-oriented and grounded place to be.”
As part of its corporate social responsibility, Sodexo mobilizes employees to join forces and engage with local partners to fight hunger by creating sustainable programs on campuses and in communities. In Danville, the company utilizes initiatives like Feeding Our Future, a summer lunch partnership involving community hunger relief organizations such as Harvest of Hope, to provide free lunches to children in need, and the Backpack Food Program, which discretely offers backpacks filled with nutritious, easy-to-prepare food for students (and their families) who are at risk of hunger when free or reduced-price school lunches are not available.
In 2005, while working for Sodexo in Asheville, Nagorka was honored with the company’s Hero’s in Everyday Life Award after creating a comprehensive plan to encourage his colleagues and the students and staff at UNC-Asheville to get involved in the fight against hunger. For three years he coordinated the preparation and donation of hot meals to local homeless shelters. “Sodexo encourages us to fight hunger at the local level,” Nagorka explains. “Part of my work in Asheville involved working with shelter residents on ‘serve safe’ classes including proper food handling and our chef taught culinary foundations classes and knife skills. These lessons prepared many of the residents for positions in the culinary industry and a number of them were eventually hired by Sodexo.”
Sodexo and Nagorka have worked hard to ensure that Centre is eating healthier by highlighting alternative options in the cafeteria such as the Balanced Way, vegan, and vegetarian lines. “I’m excited about ‘We Are What We Eat’ because Marion [Nestle] and Daphne [Miller] have created guidebooks for making healthier choices, which is something I’m always challenging myself to do at Centre,” Nagorka says. “It’s a journey I’m always on.”
Sodexo at Centre also requires its purveyors to seek out opportunities for local produce and products from as many local farmers and businesses as possible, further encouraging a farm to table mentality. “Local milk for cereal and ice cream comes from local cows at Southern Belle, when we have special catering events we use meats from Marksbury Farm, we’ve used local beer from the Beer Engine in certain dishes, and spices, sauces and jams from local festivals are in constant rotation in the dining hall and our kitchens,” Nagorka describes. “We want to highlight the flavor of this community as much as possible.”
Sodexo, Inc is proud to sponsor the Norton Center’s engagement of “We Are What We Eat.” Learn more at Sodexousa.com.
For information on how you can support Norton Center programs and performances, please contact the Norton Center Development Office at 859.238.5421.