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Paying it Forward

By: Tracy Rogge, CFO Morrison Healthcare

Morrison Healthcare Supports the Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia (HEFG) Career Expo in Atlanta

Growing Up in Foodservice

One of my best memories growing up was working at two after-school jobs in foodservice to help save money for college. I delivered meals to people in a local nursing home, and I also worked in a casual dining restaurant, preparing meals and the salad bar seven days a week. Even now, I can remember the satisfaction of providing a hot meal to seniors and learning how food is stored, prepared and presented to the public.

Now it’s my turn to connect with today’s high school students about the rewards of a foodservice career. Earlier this month, I was one of many Compass Group associates spreading the word about our organization at the Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia (HEFG) Career Expo in Atlanta. The Expo is an educational marketing show that gives about 3,000 Georgia high schoolers a first-hand look at career options in the restaurant and hospitality industries.

Giving Students Opportunities to Learn

The students met people from 30 different restaurants and foodservice businesses. Four of these companies were a part of Compass Group: Levy, Morrison Community Living, Thompson Hospitality and of course, Morrison Healthcare. Busloads of juniors and seniors from various metro Atlanta high schools watched our chefs put on a show and demonstrate their expertise right next to representatives from other brands like Arby’s, Taco Mac and other fast-food restaurants who were also hosting exhibits at the Expo. Our chefs prepared chicken and shrimp rice bowls and other hot dishes but just as valuable, made time for one-on-one conversations with the students about the importance of having a passion for a job and the career opportunities available for them at Morrison Healthcare.

HEFG is a nonprofit dedicated to providing students with direct support and education of hospitality and foodservice. My experience in foodservice at a young age makes me especially grateful to be on the foundation’s board of trustees and passionate about the Expo. The Expo is our signature event where we provide students with the opportunity to gain real-world experiences.

These kinds of events can be pivotal in inspiring young people to pursue a foodservice career. Many of these students will not attend college and are seeking other options. You never know how one conversation with a chef – especially one who remembers his/her own high school days – will influence a person’s life.

So this event gives me and other Compass associates a chance to “pay it forward” by showing young people that they can find meaningful careers in our industry. After all, several 30-year Compass veterans – including directors and managers – started out as dishwashers and worked their way into management.

Chef Derrick shares wisdom with students at the HEFG Expo.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Hospitality Professionals

Cary Neff, Morrison Healthcare Vice President of Culinary and one of our company leaders came to the Expo and seized the opportunity to inspire and empathize with today’s high school students. He found his calling early on, taking food and cooking classes in high school. He also attended vocational classes on foodservice management and studied at the famous Washburn Culinary Institute in Chicago.

Neff, emphasized the “pay it forward” aspect of these events. Because Morrison is headquartered in Atlanta, the same city where HEFG hosts the Expo, our company has a unique opportunity to give back to the community while educating students about the wide range of career opportunities available in foodservice.

Speaking to several students, he encouraged them to immerse themselves in culinary studies and learn as much as they can to determine which road to take to a satisfying career.

“They need to be exposed to every aspect of foodservice, from what it is to be a chef, to working in finance or marketing,” said Neff. “There are a lot of different avenues they can take, so they need to find out how they can turn their passion into a career.  If we can help them do that, they may remember us and someday become part of our team.”

Derrick Williams, another Morrison chef also joined us. Derrick talked enthusiastically with students about his passion for cooking and running a kitchen. Like Chef Neff, Chef Derrick knew his calling early in life. At age 14, Derrick and his brother, Willis, started working as dishwashers at Sir George’s Royal Buffet in Hopkins, S.C. By 15, he was in the kitchen, often working six or seven hours a day after school, just for the sheer joy of cooking.

Chef Derrick spoke with the students about his love of cooking and food. He knows that many of them want to earn good money right away, but did his best to persuade them to see the big picture. “The kids want to know if we make as much money as chefs working in a hotel. I told them, ‘work for passion.’ At 18 years old, money is not your issue. The money will catch up with your passion.”

Chef Brad and Chef Derrick host a teaching kitchen for students at the HEFG Expo.

He shared our focus on cooking fresh, nutritious food, and the emphasis on sustainability with the students – things that truly matter. I was so excited to see him even take on the role as mentor for a few, select students. Derrick loves sharing his wisdom with others:

“If I find a student showing a special interest, I’ll pull them aside, give them my card and ask them to call me. There are certain steps they should take to be successful, and I feel I can put them on the right career path to achieve their goals.”

As our company continues to grow, we’ll need talented young people to join and grow with us. These events give us the opportunity to introduce students to our talented chefs, cultivate interest in our company and find those individuals who will be our future leaders. Once they see what we have to offer, I’m convinced many of them will be attracted to join the Morrison family.

Becoming A Part of the Morrison Family

Looking for meaningful work helping people? Do you want to marry your passions and serving others? Check out available team member or management opportunities to join the Compass One Healthcare and Morrison Healthcare family. We believe in the Power of Food to change lives and are proud of the opportunities we have each day to help people and serve alongside world-class clients.

Morrison is a proud part of Compass One Healthcare and Compass Group USA.

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