Getting to Know the SAGE Staff


Kayla Frank

For over a decade, SAGE has been providing lunches for Emery students. SAGE, an acronym for Setting A Good Example, was founded in 1990 by Tina and Paco Rodriguez, who saw a need for a dining service that would work with independent schools in an honest manner. Over the last 30 years, SAGE has expanded, and they now serve 275 schools and private colleges across North America, all of which are passionate about nutrition and sustainability. 

While some may not know much about Emery’s SAGE staff, they work tirelessly to provide students with meals every school day. SAGE staff members Susy Benavidez, Cynthia Rios, and Diurka Andrial all share a passion for both SAGE and The Emery/Weiner School.

Susy Benavidez has been working for SAGE since 2009 after a friend referred her to the company. She enjoys cooking, especially garnishing the food. Her favorite SAGE meal is the grilled salmon, and she believes the most important thing in a dish is the flavor.

Cynthia Rios began working for SAGE in 2018, and she is originally from Honduras. She also enjoys preparing the food, especially making the salads. Rios says, “I enjoy all SAGE meals, so I can not pick just one.”

Diurka Andrial is from Cuba and immigrated to the United States when she was very young. She learned about SAGE through a friend, and it was her first job in America. Andrial is an art lover, and art was actually her original profession. She says, “Music, painting, and theater are what I love most in life. This passion has helped me a lot in this work [at SAGE] because I get to bake and make artistic creations. All of this inspiration comes from my love for art.”  Her favorite meal to prepare is dessert, but her favorite meal to eat from SAGE is the gaucho steak with arroz con grits, a popular Cuban dish that she says reminds her of home. 

Due to COVID, SAGE now serves dessert once a week, but Andrial says she wants to “spoil the kids more, and hopefully add more treats in the future.” 

Besides the lack of dessert, COVID has led to numerous changes in SAGE’s practices here at Emery. Benavidez stated that since COVID, “They have been safer by using more plastic, gloves, hand sanitizer, and by making everything grab and go.” Before the pandemic, the SAGE menu changed every semester, with a cycle of four weeks. Since COVID, the menu has become more limited, and the staff has to prep all meals a day in advance. All the hygienic rules are extreme, with everything that is prepared being packaged in plastic or styrofoam. 

If any Emery student has any concerns, questions, or ideas regarding SAGE, Andrial stated she would love them to “come to her and let her know.”