ya know why i love my job…….

because teachers have students but lunch ladies have kids.  and i have two very special types of kids that i’m responsible for this year.  last year and this year i’m responsible for the allergy kids, aka the kids who are allergic to anything and everything eatable.  in the morning i make up special little breakfasts for them that are put in sacks with their names.  at lunch they go through my line so i can make sure they haven’t picked anything that might have something they are allergic to.

the second group i look after are a couple of kids that are red flagged because they are homeless. i have to make sure they come through the line everyday and that they do get food, no matter what.  these two really put things in perspective for me.  it made me think about what i used to do, working for hallmark, where i’d have to track down information like “when was the first barbie keepsake ornament?!”  or file away the Hall Family’s personal christmas cards every year. my kids have made that all seem very meaningless. i wake up at 4:30am because i love the special ed students that come through my line and tell me to have a good day or so i can go make chit-chat with the “at-risk” 8th grade girls homeroom, which has now gotten them all eating their breakfast i deliver to them.   i might work 20 times harder for a lot less money but knowing that at the end of the day my kids got feed maybe they only meals they’ll get all day, or they got peanut free food and had their orange juice instead of milk is much more satisfying and makes me glad to go to work every day.

cafeteria style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“did you see the menu for the first day! biscuits and gravy for breakfast and mac and cheese for lunch! Ya know how many pans that’s going to take!!?”

the first day of school was on wednesday, meaning i’m back at work.  lunch ladies enter the kitchens one week before the first day of school.  we have to clean the kitchen, track down all supplies that got moved around during summer school, order groceries, and my kitchen has a new manager which means each lady gives her the low-down on the dynamics of the kitchen.

in true public school fashion access to paper work and computers was not available till the afternoon before the first morning.  for our kitchen that meant chaos because we had no paper work on the infamous “breakfast in the classroom” that we were going to have to prepare first thing in the morning.  no student count, no class list, no updated teacher homeroom list.  600 servings of biscuits and gravy would be ready with nowhere to go.  i decided the best mind-set to be in was that the first day was going to be an all out disaster and if that didn’t happen then well it would be a good day.

breakfast wasn’t an all out disaster but it was pretty chaotic. and then came lunch……….263 6th graders this year who all looked terrified and thought that the cafe was an all you can eat buffet.  at the end of the line i had a stack of confiscated pizza next to my register.  7th and 8th graders are required to eat in silence till they can prove that they are the young adults they think they are.  the silence is actually a little spooky.  yet at the same time oh so lovely!

the new kitchen manager has only had one emotional breakdown so far…..”i’ve been in kitchens 11 years and i’ve never been so stressed out…..its all that breakfast in the classroom mess”  i told her it be all ok. i cried the first week i did breakfast in the classroom feeling the exact same way. she said she wasn’t quitting just yet.

FUDultion REVOLUTION

more than once a day at work i have to have a little conversation to myself that usually goes a little something like this……..”ya know the typical american just reheats crap like this for meals, they don’t cook from scratch, i’m not typical with how i eat and cook, the vast majority are ok with getting a meal through a drive thru.”

my conclusion about school cafeterias is that the quality and types of food that are served in them is an excellent reflection of how the majority of people eat within the united states.  frozen breakfast corn dogs, pepperoni pizza with strawberry milk and dorritos, nachos every tuesday.  whenever a radical suggestion is made like “maybe we shouldn’t offer pizza everyday”  the conclusion is always the same.  the school system doesn’t want to deal with the parents complaining and the parents don’t want to hear the kids whining, so give them what they want. but the beauty with kids is, yes they might whine and complain at first but they will still eat what is put in front of them.  they also get bored with the same food over and over and over.  as an experiment one day, i made up 5 veggie pizzas, i was told “they won’t eat it”, i sold out and i sold out of them again when i made them a second day.

the US has a health epidemic in full swing, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, which all can eventually lead to cancer, with kids developing these problems as early as 8, and now our expected life span is going down because of these health issues.   we as a society have forgotten how to feed themselves. we have been raised on drive-thrus and microwaves are the number one kitchen appliance.  if we feed kids free breakfast everyday, provide them lunch and send them home with backpacks of food for the weekend, isn’t it time to teach them how to feed themselves with something that isn’t doesn’t have a toy included with the meal?

to make this happen we need a cultural shift. i’m declaring a FUDultion REVOLUTION.  if you can’t leave kindergarten without knowing your numbers, alphabet and how to tie your shoes, then you shouldn’t leave 8th grade without knowing how to cook a meal for yourself.  the goal with FUDultion REVOLUTION is to  incorporate nutrition and cooking skills into the general curriculum. i am going to use my powers of being a lunch lady, finish the handful of classes i need to become a genuine certified chef and take on one school at a time with FUDultion REVOLTUION.  if as a society we feel it is essential to learn to read and write in order to succeed, than it needs to also be essential to learn how to feed ourselves in order to achieve success.