by Connie Kim

Sodexo workers play a significant part in the functions of Colorado Mesa University because they feed thousands of students on campus every day. From early shifts to late night clean up, they work all kinds of hours to interact and serve meals. While a lot of these employees are often overlooked, they all have their own personal story.

Darren Jones, who takes on the morning shifts, covers the most popular station in the dining hall during the breakfast hours. Flip flopping the menu from skillets and omelettes to breakfast sandwiches; Jones interacts with several students every morning. Jones makes each meal to the student’s individual request. The line is typically backed up for a nearly 30-minute wait during peak times, and Jones has barely any time to catch breaks as the orders come pouring in.

Darren Jones has worked with Sodexo since 2003. Connie Kim | Criterion

When the breakfast meals transition to lunch, after 10:30 a.m., Jones also switches gears in preparing new dishes for the lunch time rush. Jones continues working at the simple servings station, which features allergen-free food. Jones starts cooking as soon as the cafeteria opens at 6:45 a.m., and continues through the day until an hour after noon.

Jones has been with Sodexo since 2003 and looks forward to continuing to work with the international food service company for many years to come.

“I plan on working here for as long as I can, until I win the lottery,” Jones said. “Even if I did win the lottery I would still go to work every day because I love my job, and I enjoy all my fellow employees and all the students that I interact with.”

The charismatic employee has also had some impressive resume builders and experiences from the food service industry. He’s worked at various jobs before Sodexo, which includes catering and banquets for the community service clubs in Grand Junction at Two Rivers Convention Center for 10 years. Even before that, Jones has worked at several restaurants, bars and breakfast and lunch diners.

At home, he’s a father to three kids. The family man is happy to have a full and grown household and is extremely passionate about caring and raising his two daughters and son. Jones confidently trusts and loves his children, as he said, “they are all teenagers, but they are head strong and do no wrong.” His family is one of his motivating factors that propel him forward.

The cook is local to Grand Junction, graduated from Grand Junction High School, and chose to come back to the Western Slope after years of traveling. He has lived in San Diego, Wales other areas of the United Kingdom for a few months each, and returned to the states with his oldest daughter to settle down.

On top of it all, Jones is a die hard sportsman. He roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bulls, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Oakland Athletics. He can be found conversing with students about upcoming games and professional sports teams. He also collects sports memorabilia.

When he’s not working hard every weekday in the cafeteria, Jones enjoys camping, fishing, exploring and spending time with his kids.

“I look forward to coming to work because I enjoy the feeling of making everybody’s day a better day,” Jones said. “Meeting all the different cultures that I encounter at work is truly amazing.”

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