December 20, 2011

Way down in Lunch Lady Land

Ordinary Sarah has asked for more insight into the life of a grade school lunch lady and being the faithful blogger I am, I must answer. Just keep in mind that my entire lunch lady experience boils down to 2 days of subbing.

First of all, I did not have to wear a hair net. I'm not sure why, and I didn't really want to ask. I've worn them in the past & they make me CRAZY!! If it gets to the point where I have to wear something, I'm pretty sure I'll invest in some rocking bandannas or a baseball cap or two. I did pin my hair back out of my face with a giant bobby pin....does that count?

I got to wear an apron (much to the amusement of my youngest child). Unfortunately it wasn't a pretty one. Since the aprons & towels come through a laundry service, basic white is the only way to go. Guess I can deal with that & it is nice to not go home with the front of your shirt covered in jell-o or 3 bean salad.

When I got there (at 6:30 am) Friday, Mary Jane (the other cook) was cutting out rolls for today's lunch. It's normally a job done by Alice (the cook I was subbing for) and it's something I look forward to learning to do. My roll making skills are scant at best. I got to work quartering 200 + oranges for lunch that day. We also made three bean salad but the rest of the food was frozen & pre-cooked. There were chicken biscuits for breakfast & fish sticks & hashbrowns for lunch. I found it rather apropos that fish stick Friday was my first day on the job.

Yesterday I walked in to Mary Jane taking Christmas cookies out of the oven. They came pre-cut & frozen as well. She'd already been there an hour & a half & had browned ground beef for vegetable soup & had turkey roasts in the oven for today's Christmas dinner. I baked 6 jell-o cakes, helped with the soup, made toasted cheese sandwiches for 150 people, washed more dishes than humanly possible, opened cans of peaches the size of a small child, and served Tac-go's for breakfast (egg & sausage soft tacos).

In all, I'd say about a third to half of what we made in 2 days was frozen and the other half we made from scratch. It's a pretty decent balance especially when there are only 2 cooks feeding an entire pre-k through 8th grade school plus facility.

In all, I really enjoyed the work. You keep to yourselves in the kitchen for the most part. Teachers take care of the students in the cafeteria while you worry about the inner workings of the kitchen. You stay busy most of the day & have the flexibility to work in your own way as long as everything gets done. Of course I haven't had to touch the crazy mess of paperwork that comes with a state job. That may change my mind quickly.

Never in a million years did I see myself as a lunch lady, but then I never saw myself as a SAHM of 4 living on a farm with a country boy. Wonder what I'll learn about myself tomorrow?

1 comment:

Kork said...

Wow!! In Colorado, I don't think anything can come pre-made except the chicken nuggets and burger patties...

My neighbor works in the kitchen and most everything is made from scratch. Doesn't matter about how "rich" a district may or may not's all done at State level so every school in every district has the same brands and recipes. Only thing different is that the middle and high schoolers have more than 3 options. Yup! Our kids in public schools get one vegetarian option, the "scheduled" lunch option and then there's always something like PB&J or the "yogurt boat" - comprised of a Go-Gurt, a string cheese stick, some graham crackers, and the fruit/veggie of the day.

It's weird to me...I remember growing up your choices were: what you packed, what was "hot lunch", or some combination of trades...