Local man assumes new role to improve food, service at Grambling State University
BY DIANA SEPULVEDA
Grambling State University Media Bureau
GRAMBLING, LA – Working in the food service industry since high school, Eddie Rushing takes pride in serving a variety of quality food. Now he’s the food service director at Grambling State University.
Leon Sanders, the university’s vice president for finance and administration, announced Rushing’s selection at last Thursday morning’s convocation in the T.H. Harris Auditorium on campus – and the audience of mostly students cheered. They cheered even louder when Sanders said that Rushing and the administration have arranged to have Taco Bell added to the food restaurant selections on campus.
Rushing, 56, a Ruston native, is the new food service director at Grambling State University, and he’s “glad to come to Grambling (because) it is close to home.” For 37 years, Rushing has lived down the street in the small town of Simsboro with his high school sweetheart, LaJeanne, his wife “for 37 wonderful years” and they live with their daughter, Heather, a biology graduate student at Louisiana Tech University.
In his short few weeks on campus, the campus menu is now available online and posted each day at campusdish.com/en-US/CSSW/Grambling, he has included nutritional information for each food item to help students who have asked for healthier food options and he’s working with the university administration to consider the possibility of adding Taco Bell in Tiger Express, the fast-food operation.
Still, Rushing isn’t satisfied. “I can guarantee that the food will improve now to next semester,” said Rushing, who is working on a menu with a variety of options.
Starting his first food service job at A&W Drive-Inn in Ruston as the assistant manager, Rushing worked at night after school. With about 40 years of experience, Rushing brings a wealth of skills to the McCall Dining Hall ARAMARK job from his role as assistant director at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, where he worked for more than 10 years. Earlier, he spent about three years as ARAMARK’s retail director at Louisiana Tech, his alma mater.
Prior to his ARAMARK jobs, Rushing worked for the Pillsbury Company’s Burger King.
Ante’ Britten, associate vice president for finance and administration, said changes weren’t being made fast enough based on student feedback so a decision was made to hire a new director. “The variety and quality of the food was not up to par in the dining hall …so a change needed to be made,” he said.
“The variety and quality of the food was not up to par in the dining hall in a timely matter,” said Britten, “so a change needed to be made.”
Before he even started his new job in March, Rushing “I popped up at (Tiger) Express unannounced with my family on Sunday.” He wanted to see how average customers would be treated and what kind of food was provided.
Senior Stephany Norris, who serves on the university’s food service committee, said she’s seen improvements since Rushing has been in charge. “It was actually really good, looks better and they have a lot of variety,” said Norris, one of several student representatives who sit on the committee with administration and ARAMARK officials. “When I went in they have more than one vegetarian option without meat like soup and a veggie burger. Delicious!”
Norris said there are some weekend issues that still need attention, but Rushing is off to a good start.
D’ Corey Bainz, a freshman transfer student from the Los Angeles area, said the weekend food options and quality is just fine; he’s concerned about the service when the dining hall is open for only brunch and dinner and lots of students are visiting to eat at the same time. “There are more people that are trying to eat,” he said. “I feel that they should make enough food for everyone to eat at the right time during the weekends.”
Rushing explained during a recent interview in his office that not many students dine in the dining hall during the weekend and is not able to increase the staff. The food service director and his team are open to suggestions and the concerns of students, which has been there inspiration to construct a brief paper survey in hopes to receive feedback from the student body.