Sweeny, top, and Maureen Tosto, left, have worked for Wesleyan's Campus Dining
Services for more than 35 years combined. Sweeny works as a cook in Summerfields and
Tosto is a cashier at the Davenport Campus Center.
Service with Smiles, and Maybe a Hug or Two
|Q: What is your job title?
Lennie Sweeny (LS): Second cook. I do the prep work for the first cooks.
Theyíre the ones who are in charge of everything. You could call me the soup
lady, because I make all the soups and chili.
Maureen Tosto (MT): Iím a cashier.
Q: How many years have you worked in food services?
LS: Iíve been working for Wesleyan for 20 years. Seventeen of those years I
worked at the Campus Center as a cashier and in salad, deli and beverage
stock. Iíve been here in Summerfields for the past three years.
MT: I came here in 1984, but I left because I was pregnant. I came back in
1989. Iím a cashier now in the Campus Center, but Iíve done everything here.
Iíve been in beverage stock, and I worked at Summerfields briefly as a line server.
Q: What are your job duties?
LS: My job first and foremost is to make the soup, and then I help prep
other foods. I make two soups a day. The most popular soup is my clam
chowder. I cook it with bacon bits and put my heart into it. Weíll go
through four pots of that, and only one pot of tomato soup. Students love
the cream soups. Yesterday we had a cream soup and by 12 noon there was no
MT: I monitor the studentsí meal points on their cards and let them know if
theyíre low. Some of them pay cash. At lunchtime itís bang, bang, bang.
Q: What hours do you typically work?
LS: I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6 to 11 a.m. Friday.
MT: I work 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. I love those hours.
Q: Is working in food service stressful?
LS: Not here in Summerfields. Absolutely not. We all get along and work
together to get the job done. No one says, ďThatís not my job.Ē Charlie
Moorehead is our boss and we love him and he loves us.
MT: No, I thrive on this.
Q: What is the best part about working in dining services?
LS: I like the atmosphere of the job here. I like how weíre all so close.
MT: I love the students. I still get emails from some of them who wanted to
stay in contact. I love that I have a birds-eye view of every thing that
goes on in here. Always something interesting to look at.
Q: What is your interaction with the students?
LS: I am always in the kitchen. When I worked at the Campus Center, the
students were the best part of the job. Iíd give at least 500 hugs a day and
tell them everything is going to be OK during their exams. These kids are
away from home and not seeing their moms and they all can use a hug. Hugs
are good for the soul.
MT: Iím constantly working with the students. I like to give them a question
of the day, sort of like a David Letterman poll. Last week I was asking,
ďDid you get a flu shot?Ē We have some interesting conversations.
Q: How many students are served in the Campus Center a day?
MT: When Lennie worked here, we had about 900 go through the line a day. But
now things are more spread out on campus so that number has dwindled.
Q: Do you eat meals prepared in Summerfields and Campus Center?
LS: Usually I donít have time. I rather make it than eat it. But I am here
to make the best food I can possibly make. If I wonít eat it, then youíre
not going to eat it.
MT: Sometimes Iíll go upstairs to Stephanieís and have organic food. I love
beets. I also drink a lot of Starbucks Doubleshots. Have you ever had one? I
usually have four of them a day.
Q: What are your favorite foods?
MT: I like seafood. I love shrimp.
LS: Of all the soups I make, my personal favorite is the chicken stew.
Breakfast is my favorite meal to make.
Q: Do you cook at home?
MT: I love to cook. I cook like Iím Italian even though Iím Irish. Every
Sunday I make two or three big dinners like roast beef or sausage and
peppers and they last us throughout the week.
LS: I donít. I spend enough time doing that here.
Q: Do you have families?
LS: I have two boys, Arnie, who is 24, and Randall, who is 22. Randall works
at McConaughy Dining Hall. Everyone calls him ďOogie.Ē I also have a
granddaughter named Amara. Sheís 3, and we spend lots of time playing with
Elmo and going to Chuck E. Cheese and the park. We all live here in
MT: I have three girls. Melissa is 27 and she is a second grade
teacher in Middletown. Iím going to repay her student loans the rest of my
life. My daughter Katie turned 21 last week and she had a big party with 300
guests, but I pulled through. Amy is my youngest. She is 19. We also live in
Q: How far back do you two go?
MT: We go way back, some 20-something years. Her boys used to come over and
play Atari, and thatís just when it came out.
Q: Tell me about your hobbies and interests outside of work.
LS: I like to support people. If I wake up and I am alive, I think, ĎI was
given a chance to do something todayí and how dare we complain about
anything. I like to give hugs and help others. Iím always willing to help
people who are struggling. That is my hobby.
MT: I stay home on Friday nights and wait for my girls to come home safely.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection