Changes for cafeteria workers

Changes for cafeteria workers

Hannah Chelton, Reporter

The past year has presented many challenges to everyone and some individuals have taken on more responsibilities since things are still not back pre-pandemic normal. Without a doubt it has made some individual’s work even more stressful than it was before.

For instance, the cafeteria staff has had to make changes to their routines from previous years. Since not all students are on campus every day, something needed to be done to ensure that students were getting meals on a daily basis.  The resolution to this problem is that all students PreK-6th receive meals on Friday for the weekend. Middle and High School students receive their meals the first day they attend in-person learning for the week. Since these students only attend school half of the time, there are five days worth of meals prepared for them.

To find out how much work actually goes into preparing these meals I decided to reach out to a cafeteria worker to find out what it is like having to prepare all of the meals for students to take home. After conversing with cafeteria worker Kim Schweitzer, I found out some information to help better understand what it is like to work in the cafeteria for the 2020-2021 school year.

To start off the conversation, I first asked Schweitzer if all the meals were prepared at the high school and she replied, ¨Yes.” I then asked her if she knew how long it takes to prepare all the meals for students to take home. She was unable to give an exact number of how many hours it takes them because she works at one of the elementary school cafeterias. However, she did say that she has been in contact with the head cook and knows that they spend several hours preparing the meals. I then followed up with asking if they have to cook all of the food. I was informed that some food comes ready to use but others they have to prepare, such as the mac & cheese, corn dogs, and chicken nuggets, just to name a few.

Now knowing that many hours go into preparing the meals for students to take home, I inquired if more employees had to be hired in order to get the job done. In fact, no new employees were hired this year, and to accomplish this task, there has been some changes in how the cafeteria serves students in school. There has been a reduction on selections along with fewer options in the cafeteria, so it makes more time for the staff to focus on packaging meals to send home. Finally, after hearing all the work that goes into preparing these meals, it made me wonder what they do with meals that are left over. It turns out leftover meals are able to be used in different ways and do not go to waste.

After getting insight on cafeteria workers’ job tasks for the school year, it makes me realize that their job is underestimated. So the next time you are in any lunch line, say thank you to the workers.