‘I’ve enjoyed every minute of it’

Published 10:00 am Sunday, June 9, 2024

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Those who frequent Windsor’s Food Lion location likely know or have at least seen Sandy Mayfield.

The store has benefited from her outstanding service in different capacities for the last six to seven years.

This is the latest chapter in Mayfield’s impressive history of dedicated service as a Food Lion employee.

The retailer holds an annual event where it shares appreciation and gratitude for long-term associates. At the 2024 iteration of that event, held April 18 in Salisbury, North Carolina, Food Lion highlighted more than 350 associates celebrating more than 30 years of service this year.

Among that group was Mayfield, who will begin year 31 this fall.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” she said.

Her tenure with Food Lion began in the fall of 1994 when she was hired as a part-time deli clerk at the Food Lion location in Yorktown. Just prior to that she had been working at a steakhouse.

“I’ve been in food service my whole life, and friends of mine worked for Food Lion, and they worked at the store in Yorktown, Virginia,” she said. “And they talked to me every day when they would come and eat lunch at the steakhouse: ‘Why don’t you come to work for us?’

She said, “So finally one day, I just went ahead and put in an application, and it wasn’t about four or five days later they called me to come in for an interview. And I went to work training in the deli, part time, and I had run a restaurant before, and I was a waitress and a cook at the steakhouse where I was working. And so they asked me would I come to work for them part time and that as soon as a full-time position was open that they would give me a deli of my own. And so I went to work there at Yorktown.”

She said it might have been just three months later that Food Lion officials asked her if she was ready to take on a deli of her own.

“And I said, ‘Yes,’ so I became the deli bakery manager and a cake decorator in (a) Newport News store,” she said. “And I guess I did a good enough job, because then they sent me to other stores to help other deli managers.”

Over her 30 years with Food Lion, Mayfield has worked at 57 different store locations in Virginia and North Carolina.

“Sometimes I would work at my store in Newport News, and we had two young ladies that were out at the same time between Thanksgiving and Christmas one year, so I’d work at my store, and I would go to one of their stores and then another store in Williamsburg and help out,” she said.

She noted that she has worked on the Eastern Shore and the Northern Neck.

“When we had hurricane damage down in North Carolina, I went down there and got to help re-setup stores that were washed out or damaged terribly during Hurricane Floyd,” she said.

The reason she worked at so many different stores was connected to the quality of training she gave her deli workers, helping the deli bakery she managed to reach the top level of practice in the area.

“If we had a problem where somebody was short at a store, my crew was good enough to handle my deli, and I could go help out at another store,” she said. “When we had new people, I got to go and train them how to do inventory. And I have done as much as three inventories in two days — my inventory and two other people’s inventories.”

Physical difficulties have contributed to Mayfield having to scale back some of her responsibilities in recent years.

“I had a surgery years ago on my foot, and it didn’t go well, so when I finished (being) in and out of work for about eight or nine months over there in Windsor, I was going to have to step down to part time because my foot doesn’t bend like it used to — it had to be fused back together,” she said. “So Food Lion made arrangements to put me on as a cashier, and I enjoy it. I enjoy deli bakery because it’s customer service-oriented, and I’m a people kind of person.”

She is back to serving in a part-time position as a sales associate, or front-end cashier.

“I’m 71, so I really enjoy it, and I wait on a lot of people that I waited on before I ever came to Food Lion when I worked in the bar and the restaurant business that live over in Windsor, but they used to work in Newport News or Virginia Beach or in Poquoson,” she said. “I love my customers at Windsor.”

Mayfield currently lives in Surry County.

She and her son traveled to Salisbury, North Carolina, for the April 18 event held by Food Lion where each long-term associate’s name, position, location and service milestone were read aloud and celebrated. 

“Recognizing the dedication and contributions of our associates who have served Food Lion for many years is a true honor for us,” said Food Lion President Meg Ham in a news release. “Their commitment to excellence, care for our customers and impact in the towns and cities we serve is invaluable. We are incredibly fortunate to have such passionate and dedicated associates who continue to make a positive difference every day.”  

Mayfield said the recognition ceremony was wonderful.

“It made me feel like I was a very valued employee and that they cared about whether I was there or not, and they made me want to stay another 5 years if I can make it,” she said. 

She noted that her job is enjoyable, and at the Windsor location, “we have a really nice crew that we work with there, and they’re very wonderful. Everybody works together to get the job done.”

She praised Food Lion for its strong training programs for cake decorators and bakers and for its outstanding food safety programs.

“I enjoy working for a company that cares about their employees, and when something happens, they do their best to help their employees with any kind of situation there is,” she said.