By Lily Heritage
Lunch ladies and gentlemen: as someone who has bought school lunch everyday since middle school, I feel like I have a personal connection with the men and women who feed me. We students only really see the finished product and not what actually goes into it. I can handle the heat, so let’s head to the kitchen.
Penny Gise, the lunch room manager, was kind enough to show me the inner workings of the lunch room.
The day for the morning staff starts at 5:45 AM. With boxes to unpack, fruits and vegetables to slice, and food to cook, the kitchen is busy most of the day. Food is prepped and cooked before the day starts (as well as throughout the day), but keeping it yummy and fresh is an art, Gise explains.
“We serve about 350 people at breakfast, and we are feeding approximately 2000 people daily including lunch. We also prepare about 2500 meals a day,” Gise says, casually.
With that many meals going out, there has to be a method to the madness.
“You want to be able to serve the students in a timely fashion. Our first lunch rush is our largest, but if you take a picture of the clock when the line forms and took a picture of the clock when the last customer is coming up, it’d be about 11-12 minutes. In that 11-12 minutes, we’ve served about 125 kids,” Gise says.
Numbers like that don’t lie. The kitchen is a well oiled machine. Timing is everything when you have thousands of kids to feed. They also have started a summer feeding program, in which they fed about a thousand kids total.
“Anyone from 0-18 can come and eat for free. I would consider this summer a success for the first year. We would hope that more kids feel free to come eat next year.”
From the kitchen to the lunch tables, our lunch staff is doing the most for us. Thank you lunch ladies (and gentlemen)!
For more information about the summer feeding program, visit https://www.jenksps.org/vnews/display.v/ART/5b07035a94570 !