Dining Services Recipients of First Disability Commission Award

Dining Services Recipients of First Disability Commission Award

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

For Dining Services, it’s about more than just the food. Accessibility, comfort and inclusion are as important to their mission as their culinary offerings. Proof of that comes with receipt of the first Annual Disability Commission Award from the President’s Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities. 

The award, presented Tuesday, Feb. 25, reads: “For fostering understanding of the issues and for building a community of inclusive excellence that has raised awareness through insight and action increasing opportunity and access for people with disabilities.”

“I am very pleased of our work to be an inclusive workplace and experience for all of the guests we serve.  We care deeply about what really matters.  We will do everything in our power to remove barriers so as to provide an environment where everyone feels respected, welcomed and is able to contribute,” says Jon Plodzik, director of Dining Services. “It is an honor to be recognized by the university for the difference we have made in the lives of those we serve.”

Georgia Kerns, co-chair of the commission and associate professor of education, noted the award was established to recognize outstanding UNH partners working toward a community of inclusion. Nominations were based on people and departments who use their insights and energy to build new opportunities and access for people with disabilities.

“Jon and his staff were nominated and selected for this award for creating a culture that is welcoming and inclusive throughout the dining enterprise,” Kerns says.

Examples of the actions Plodzik and his staff have taken to become leaders in area of inclusiveness, cited by nominators, include:

“Area managers hire staff with intellectual disabilities. Not only does this get more folks into the workplace, it also gives students opportunities to interact with and learn from diverse people in the workforce.”

 “The staff is always open to recommendations on how to improve access in the dining facilities.”

“When Jon noticed a student struggling with the lift in Holloway, he reached out to the ADA Office, and then to the manufacturer of the lift to discuss improvements.”

“When a student advised that the entrance to Philbrook was inaccessible, Brandon Crosby, area manager checked it out and, without a blink, got it fixed.”

Read more about the President’s Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities here