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A Day in the Life of the Cafeteria Staff

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A Day in the Life of the Cafeteria Staff

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Right after the lunch bell rings, students pour into the cafeteria with stomachs rumbling, eager to get their first bite since breakfast. Long lines of students that wrap around the room start to grow shorter and shorter as their needs for a delicious meal are satisfied by the hard work and careful preparation of the cafeteria staff. Throughout the day, they are constantly on the move to make sure that each student and teacher is able to get a meal that will make them hungry for more.

A long line forms around the cafeteria, awaiting their second meal of the day.

6:00 AM

 

The first to arrive every morning, Mrs. Rhonda Lyons (Faculty) comes to the school to set up everything necessary for that day. She uses about ninety minutes of her early morning time to prepare all the food for the breakfast bar that is served in the auditorium lobby as students arrive to school. Lyons also makes sure that all workstations are clean and ready for the rest of the cafeteria team.

 

“Myself, I do the odds and ends, the early stuff in the beginning,” said Lyons describing her morning duties. “Getting stuff ready for the girls before they come in because I’m in there the earliest.”

 

8:00 AM

 

After other staff members have started arriving to work, students begin coming off their buses and into the school, hungry for the many options offered at the breakfast bar. The staff as a whole enjoys seeing their hard work pay off in the positive reactions of the students.

Diane Crowe (Faculty) rings up Jaden Pabon (9) at the cash register.

“Probably the satisfaction when the kids compliment and kids are happy with the food we’re making,” said Lyons referring to the most rewarding parts of her job. “And they seem to enjoy the meal and look forward to certain things that we make.”

 

8:45-11:00 AM

 

When the breakfast bar is put away and the lobby is cleared, the real work begins in the kitchen. Chopping up fruit and putting toppings on pizzas, the cafeteria workers continue to get busier and busier as the minutes fly by. It takes a team effort to make sure the lunch lines have enough hot items, sides, and many other meal options to successfully feed the hungry students of James Buchanan High School. These two hours and fifteen minutes are definitely the busiest times of the day for these diligent workers.

Staci McCulloh (Faculty) chops up oranges into slices in preparation for the lunch periods.

“A typical day at work is usually pretty busy and just different things coming at you from all directions,” said Director Adam Carlson (Faculty).

 

11:30 AM-1:30 PM

 

The bell for the first lunch period rings over the school and students rush into the cafeteria with their mouths watering, waiting for a good hot meal. Two staff members take their positions at the cash registers while two more take their positions in the lines, preparing to serve the hungry students. This is the point in the day where the activity in the kitchen slowly dies down. The hard work of preparation has been completed and now all that needs to be done is the serving of meals. The staff hopes that all students are satisfied with their meals and feel confident in their ability to prepare them.

Judy Woodward (Faculty) stays very busy as she serves up deli bar to the hungry students.

“I’m hoping it just makes a positive impact in the students’ day,” said Carlson. “No matter how bad their day is going, they can rely on having a good hot meal from us.”

 

1:45-2:30 PM

 

When the final bell has rung and the cafeteria has emptied itself, the staff works as a team to prepare everything for the next day. Working together, they accomplish tasks such as washing lunch trays, putting everything back in the refrigerator, cleaning up the scraps from the lunch lines, sweeping the kitchen floors and much more. The cafeteria staff members leave at 2:30 PM feeling confident and proud that they have filled hungry stomachs and satisfied cravings. They hope to be constantly learning and trying new things as chefs and workers.

The kitchen after it has been diligently cleaned up by the staff.

“Just being able to be creative in the kitchen, creative with the menu and getting the staff on board with doing new things,” said Carlson. “And increasing everybody’s ability to cook.”

 

Overall, the day consists of constant business, being up and moving, focusing on their goals, and trying to accomplish everything that they have set out to do for that day.

Filed under On Campus, Showcase

School Lunch 101

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School Lunch 101

Ashley Dukehart (9), Julia Trei (9), and Brynn Taulton (9) smile as they share a funny moment with their friends.

Ashley Dukehart (9), Julia Trei (9), and Brynn Taulton (9) smile as they share a funny moment with their friends.

Ashley Dukehart (9), Julia Trei (9), and Brynn Taulton (9) smile as they share a funny moment with their friends.

Ashley Dukehart (9), Julia Trei (9), and Brynn Taulton (9) smile as they share a funny moment with their friends.

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In the cafeteria, there are students in the lunch lines and at the tables. With all of the students in the cafeteria, there are many conversations going on simultaneously. As the students get in the lunch lines, the lines get longer and longer. Finally after waiting in line, students take their lunches back to their seats, and begin to devour their tray filled with goodies. It does not take long for the trays to be completely empty, but it does take time to prepare the foods that will be served on the trays.

 

“We normally start making lunches around 8:30 and then we are done by 10:45,” Rhonda Lyons (Staff) explained. “The lines are split up, so in between lines, we prep food for the next line. When we are low on food, I will plot it down on a record sheet and write down how many I started with and how much I will add next time.”

Staci McCulloh (Staff), Shirley Everitts (Staff), Judy Woodward (Staff), Rhonda Lyons (Staff), Diane Crowe (Staff), Julie Keefer (Staff), and Amanda Rosenberry (Staff all gather around the dirty dishes as they start cleaning up from a long day of making food.

Not only do the meals take time to make, they must also follow the guidelines that are required by the Food Service Department. Those guidelines are very thorough and contain the essentials needed in every meal.

 

The lunch ladies normally make the lunches, but Adam Carlson (Faculty) is the one who manages the lunch program to the way that the district wants it to run.

 

“Complete meals have to be under one thousand four hundred milligrams of sodium,” Carlson said. “Fats needs to be less than 35% of calories, 80% of our offerings have to be whole-grain rich, with the exception of our pizza doughs, and vegetables are contained in every school-meal lunch.”

 

“Basically what I do is I plans out the menus, plan the schedule for the staff, implement the recipes needed in the lunches, and provide culinary training.” Carlson said. “I try to keep up with trends in the food service. I usually read Food Service Director Magazines and find some ideas in there. Once I find some ideas, I will try to add them to our school.”

 

Carlson tries to come up with ideas of his own, but he is always open to suggestions made by students who have their own thoughts on what they would like to see on the menu.

 

“I like the fish taco because it is really healthy and tastes really good,” said Gabe Bard (11). “One thing that I would like to see on the menu would be grilled chicken. Grilled chicken is a healthy food and I believe the kids at JB should eat healthy. Plus, who doesn’t like grilled chicken?”

 

”I like the jacked-up fries because it is very creative,” said Mason Younker (10). ”It’s like nachos and fries mixed together. I think that our school has a bunch of good choices, but if I had to pick one thing to be added to the lunch menu, then it would be steak since steak is a good source of protein.”

 

In order to have school lunches, we have to have money. “On estimate, the Food Service Department spends around $600,000 to feed students in one school year.” said Carlson. “In one school year, we will make a little over $1,000,000 in revenue.”

 

The school cafeteria is where people convene together and socialize with their peers. During lunch, it is the one place where students and staff can enjoy themselves.

 

“I like my job. I started at the middle school only working four hours a day,” Lyons said. “Eventually, I came up here and now instead of working four hours a day, I have a full-time position being the kitchen manager.”

My favorite thing about working as a lunch lady is probably the kids. It is nice to see the students and interact with them at this age.”

— Rhonda Lyons

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