EDISON, NJ -- Organized, clean and efficient food service is one of the most important elements associated with a safe return to school during the pandemic. Despite the many challenges created by COVID-19, Sage Dining Services has delivered quality and safety to students, faculty and staff at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison

Under the direction of head chef Anibal Rodriguez, Sage employees trained in all the necessary safety procedures and developed a plan to serve the W+H community on a daily basis. 

“We had a plan coming in, and we executed,” Chef Anibal said. “Overall, it’s been great and getting even better every day.”

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Chef Anibal and his staff revamped the serving system in the kitchen to make everything “COVID friendly.” All items are pre-wrapped, including hot entrées, sandwiches, salads, fruit, desserts, condiments and utensils.

“Pre-wrapping all the meals has definitely been a challenge,” Chef Anibal said. “We went from having open buffets to wrapping 500 meals a day. It’s going well, and we’re keeping people safe.”

Other upgrades include touch-free beverage dispensers and hand sanitizing stations throughout the AP Room and serving area. Dishwashers wear face masks and plastic shields and all kitchen staff members are wearing face masks at all times.

Even with all the safety upgrades and training, success does not come without cooperation and teamwork from the full W+H community. The Lower School has been using an order and delivery system, sending menus home to parents and filling orders with classroom delivery. Older students have been sitting at tables for four with partitions dividing their eating space.

Chef Anibal added that dividing the Upper School into three lunch periods, which essentially reduced the AP Room crowd from 220 to 50 students at a time, has been an enormous help. Controlling the numbers is keeping everybody safe and making the flow efficient.

“Middle School and Upper School lunches have been awesome. The kids have really accepted the new rules and followed them better than expected,” Chef Anibal said. 

The Wardlaw+Hartridge School (1295 Inman Ave., N. Edison) is Central Jersey’s premier PreK-12 independent school. The campus is located near the Scotch Plains border and just five miles from downtown Westfield. It is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational day school that prepares students to lead and succeed in a world of global interconnection. Wardlaw+Hartridge provides an educational atmosphere characterized by academic challenge, support for individual excellence, diversity, and a familial sense of community. To take a virtual tour of the school, visit www.whschool.org/admission/take-a-virtual-tour.