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Episode 15: The Life of a Lunch Lady

They are some of the most beloved employees in any school, typically waking up before dawn to serve up smiles along with fabulous food for breakfast and lunch. We’re talking about our amazing school lunch ladies and cafeteria workers.

On this episode of the Supercast, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey heads to Fox Hollow Elementary School where he experiences first-hand what it’s like to be a lunch lady and which meal students love most for lunch.

Audio Transcription

Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Today, we head to one of the happiest places anywhere. The school cafeteria, I decided it was time to try my hand in the kitchen to find out how cafeteria workers managed to serve up massive amounts of food. Along with smiles in school cafeterias every single day. Find out if I made the grade with lunch manager, Kathy George at Fox hollow elementary school, I'm here with Cathy, the lunch manager at Fox hollow elementary. Thanks for letting me come today, Cathy. I'm going to get my apron on. So I'm legit. I thought about just turning my sport coat around the other way as an apron, but that might backfire. So the kids are looking at me with a little bit of suspicion. Like who's this new lunch worker, but, uh, I'll do my best. I'm fortunate enough to be here on pretzel and pizza day, which, uh, would be a magical day for me if I were in elementary school. So let's see. Uh, let's see what Kathy has me do.

Oh, first you got to wash your hands. That's the rules.

All right. I'm all scrubbed in. Oh my hat. Oh, perfect. I'll put this hat on. As far as it'll go on my enormous,

Gotta wear gloves, serve pizzas or pretzel.

Well, I'd like to serve pretzel because I get to ask them if they want cheese,

You guys get to be relieved. Who's gonna serve pretzels.

What's the size of your staff. Who else do you have involved?

Um, I have eight of us. There's eight ladies. How long have you been in launch manager? I've I've only been a manager. This is my third year, but I've worked for the school district. This is my 21st year.

All right. I'm trying to keep track of things here. I tried the cheese with the right hand. I forgot to ask her if she wanted cheese. I think she wants cheese. Would you like cheese? No cheese. Alright. I like your shirt. By the way. Stranger things keep feeling the sense of accomplishment when you get through one group of kids and then there's always another group of kids

Always is always, sometimes it's out the door.

I'm doing the cheese left-handed now I'm going to read. Okay. No, that's okay. It's an extra challenge. Would you like some cheese? Alright. I am spilling this cheese all over the place. I'm really trying, but I'm kind of feeling the pressure. Do you have any tips for how I can do a better job? I'm not

Usually pull theirs. I usually have him put a pull tray in a little closer and then you can put it on

Tricks of the trade. I'm already getting better now. Thank you.

Hold on. You're tryin sweetheart. There you go.

Oh, just empty the tray. I did my first tray of pretzels. That feels like an accomplishment. I don't always feel the sense of accomplishment in the day, but I cleared a tray of pretzels. The kids waiting in line are not impressed. They're just wanting their pretzel as fast as possible. Would you like some cheese? Yes, please. All right, here comes the cheese. She's smiling. She's given me a chance.

Remind him that there's beans over here too.

Oh, we got chili over here. We got red hot chili over here.

So your beans baked beans.

Here we go. It's Brown. Alright. You know what? I forgot the tip. You just gave me the move. That tray in go. Would you like some cheese? All right, there you go. These are very polite cheese eaters. Would you like some cheese?

Let's put that on so it doesn't fall off. But

See, I didn't even, I didn't even put that pretzel on the trailer. I'm sorry. Thank you. Thanks for your patience. He was very nice, even though I kind of untied his pretzel and it ended up halfway off. Wow.

It's fast paced action. Would you like some cheese, cheese on the bottom of my, on the, of there? I'm afraid a lot of kids got cheese on the bottom of their tray because of my splash zone here. But uh, I'm uh, let's see if I can remedy that a little bit. All right. Fresh start. New tray, new line of kids. Yep. Thanks for the thanks for the help. Alright. Would you like cheese? Pull your tray forward, please. Let's pull it right to the edge. There. There you go. I have reduced the splash zone significantly. The cheese is flowing like butter. I'm telling you, it feels like this should be an easy serve day, but it's not for me. This is a lot to think about all at the same time. I am. I am proud that I am no longer stringing cheese all the way across the counter. Do you see it?

Your have improved tremendously. Alright, awesome. And you got rid of all our beans. We never get rid of all our beans.

Good. I've been pushing the beans.

Okay. So we're 365 pizza today.

Three 65 pizza. So I'm kind of the underdog serving pretzels. Pretzels, probably fare better against pizza than some other. Uh, what's the most popular dish besides pizza? Um, orange chicken. Oh, the orange chicken. Sounds really good. Yeah. How frequently do you do orange chicken? About once a month. Okay. Well, that's a, it's a rare treat.

So you do about 500.

Wow. A hundred orange chicken. And what else? What are you putting in competition with orange chicken then

Sometimes sloppy Joes, but that's not a big hit.

I like sloppy. Joe's eighties always serve. We talk about this the more, I think I need to stop by for lunch. Oh, I've got kids waiting. Anytime. Grab some beans. Those are limited edition beans. Don't pass them up, feeling the sense of accomplishment when you get through one group of kids. And then there's always another group of kids waiting.

He says always, sometimes it's out the door.

Okay. So honestly that felt really fast. Moving to me. Some school districts prepare food at a common site and then deliver that. But that's not true for Jordan district. We make everything right here. And a lot of it's from scratch.

We make homemade muffins, chocolate muffins, banana muffins. We make homemade cinnamon rolls. We make scrambled eggs, homemade scrambled eggs.

Wow. That sounds fantastic.

We have a toaster. We make toast.

And what about for lunch? What are the, what are the lunch options that you make from scratch?

Which options we make? Lasagna homemade, lasagna, homemade spaghetti, um, homemade, sloppy. Joe's homemade tacos. We make our own bread cakes, cookies.

It's a huge operation. What is the most difficult part of your job

That guessing, projecting how much I'm going to? Cause we have to do our orders like a week in advance from when we serve, when we serve it. So I have to just guess how much pizza we're going to do, how much pretzel we're going to do. And sometimes I didn't guess, right?

We have the, the class sends down the count at the beginning of the day, but that doesn't help when you have to order a week in advance.

So I have to just guess, like for instance, the other day we did chicken teriyaki and I only projected 250 and where it was actually 300. Oh wow. Find a third choice.

After the fast paced food service, it was time to clean up. I was assigned dishwashing duty. It's kind of like a carwash. Whoa, I'm going to drag me in

So it doesn't put up like that and the dishwasher and the sink and just spray her off.

All right. Oh, here we go. Blend between a carwash and feeding your luggage into the X Ray machine at the airport

Of these at my house. Make dish doing dishes a lot easier. I'm going to hire him. I think I'm going home today. I think I can go home. I think they're in good hands here. How many kids do you serve a day? Probably about 3000 kids lunches a week, three, 400 for breakfast. It's hard for me to go home now and just make dinner for three of us because I'm thinking we need 40 pounds of hamburger.

While I finished making a bit of a mess in the kitchen at Fox hollow, we're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll have some fun talking with students about school lunch.

If you're always looking for opportunities to learn something new, why not join us for the next Jordan parent university? Jordan parent university is an opportunity for parents to better understand issues that impact their own students and education. It's an evening class designed to help parents with things like planning for the road beyond high school, better understanding students' social and emotional health and wellness. And knowing who to call when there are issues involving a school or a student Jordan, the parent university is free and open to the public for a list of upcoming classes, times and locations go to JPU dot Jordan, See you there. Tell me your name again.

And what grade are you in? And do you like school? Lunch? What do you like about school?

Uh, I like how it tastes.

Hey guys. How's it going? You guys all have school lunch here. I see. What's your favorite? Orange chicken, orange, chicken. I heard the orange chicken is good. What else do you guys like

The hamburger or? No, the curly fries.

The curly fries. Do they come with the hamburger? Yes. How are you? What's your name? Mikayla. And I'm good. Mikayla. What grade are you in? Sixth grade. What, what do you like about the lunch in the cafeteria?

It has carrots. Yeah.

Okay. Very good. That's good for you. What's your favorite dish?

Um, barbecue pulled pork sandwich.

Oh, okay. I didn't know. They did that barbecue. That sounds good. All right. What's your name? Sabrina. What grade are you in? Sabrina. And do you like the school lunch? Uh, yeah. What's your favorite day? Traveling tacos. What's the traveling tacos.

So it usually has like Doritos on that. It has like beans and like chili and cheese.

I've seen people walking around with those. I did not know what they were called. Those sound fantastic. I've seen them made with Fritos too. Yeah, they used to do Fritos. Now they do Doritos. That's awesome. Uh, what's your favorite dish? The traveling taco. What else do you like?

I like the case. It is,

He said he is, are good too. Okay. Thanks for talking. Tell me your name. Kira. What grade are you in? I'm in six. And do you like lunch?

I feel like the school should give more choices, but um,

Like the choices that are here sometimes, sometimes what's your favorite? Orange, chicken, orange, chicken. I'm hearing a lot of orange chicken.

It's because of like the sauce. It makes it, and they kind of gives like a Tang on your tongue. It's really cool.

That does sound beautiful. Hi, Sean, what do you like about school lunch?

I like a lot of the food, especially the mashed potatoes and the chicken dinner,

The mashed potatoes and chicken dinner. That sounds fantastic. How often do they happen?

Um, it happened a lot on Fridays, but next eight days we're actually going to do the big Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, we're the only choice that they have is the chicken dinner.

Oh. So when they do the chicken dinner, that's big enough that that's all they do.

Yeah. It's like Thanksgiving it's like of like Thanksgiving dinner. Huh?

That sounds like something to look forward to. Yeah, it's a, what is it? It's it's chicken mashed potatoes.

Oh, so did I, so it's chicken mashed potatoes. You don't have like a roll and usually have a slice of pumpkin pie

Usually. Wow. Pumpkin pie at the end. I never had pumpkin pie with my school lunch. That's that's awesome. Well, great. Thanks for talking with me, Sean. Thank you for tuning into the super cast. We invite you to subscribe using Apple, Google, or your favorite podcasting app. There's a new episode of the super cast available every Thursday. I'm Anthony Godfrey. We appreciate your tuning in and remember education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you out there.

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