The Student News Site of Hendrick Hudson

The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

The Student News Site of Hendrick Hudson

The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

The Student News Site of Hendrick Hudson

The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

Behind the Scenes with Hen Hud’s Lunch Staff

Photo Credits: Aidan Schneider

 

Lunch is widely considered a student favorite during the school day, a time to catch-up with friends and, most importantly, eat – many students depend on a school’s cafeteria food service for their lunch. When coming to school, few question the availability of food in the cafeteria; it’s just there. But how is a meal available every afternoon – and morning – for every student that wants one? 

Thank Hen Hud’s dedicated lunch staff who work tirelessly to plan, prepare, and serve breakfast and lunch to hundreds of students daily. Their role in our day is vital, yet many of us are unaware of what occurs on the backend. 

Hen Hud’s food service is managed by Kathy Beltran, Clare Carey, and Frankie Perrone, graduates of Hen Hud’s classes of 1975, 1983, and 1990, respectively.

Clare and Frankie are tasked with developing the lunch menus on a monthly basis, a job that requires the consideration of stringent government regulations as well as a variety of other factors and constraints.

 “There’s a lot that goes into planning a school lunch…you have to watch out for things like the amount of sodium, the amount of sugar, and the amount of calories.” explained Frankie.

Besides adhering to federal dietary guidelines, the menu’s planners must consider how they can make the meal on a large scale with the best taste, all while sticking to a tight budget.

However, meal planning is only the first step in a laundry list of other chores for Hen Hud’s lunch staff. 

“We have to order all of the ingredients for a meal and when we receive ingredients, we have to check everything to make sure it’s compliant with temperature and quality and that it’s not damaged. Then, we have to put everything away and make sure to rotate all of the stock.” said Kathy.

Kathy is tasked with ordering the necessary ingredients for a planned meal, a job requiring careful communication with vendors to ensure that all products ordered are up to federal standards. 

Of course, in dealing with vendors, orders don’t always go as planned. At times, a vendor may substitute the ordered ingredients for another product they view as comparable. However, this can create complications for the lunch staff.

Kathy explained, “Sometimes the substitution from the shipping company isn’t what you’re allowed to have in student lunches, so you have to be very careful.”

A meal can be planned and the ingredients can be ordered, but the bulk of the work for Hen Hud’s lunch staff comes during the school day in tasks that are easily impacted by unplanned events.

From the start of their day, the lunch staff only has until 4th period – about three and a half hours – to prepare lunch for the next several periods. And even before lunch, the staff must prepare a breakfast service for students. 

“Two of us come in at 6:00 AM, me being one and another girl; we have to make 36 breakfast sandwiches and 30 buttered rolls by 7:00…The time constraint is the biggest problem because we also have to have everything ready for the first lunch period,” said Kathy.

After breakfast, three and a half hours is not a lot of time to prepare a meal for hundreds of students; this task can be further complicated by staffing issues.

 “If one person doesn’t show up for work, we all have assigned spots, someone else has to take on their role. Today, one girl didn’t come in and she made all of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the snack containers. We had to have someone else do that role on top of their other duties.” said Kathy 

The tasks at hand for Hen Hud’s lunch staff on a typical day require careful cooperation amongst team members; missing just one can throw a wrench in a day’s schedule. 

“Anything that affects the schedule during the day impacts us; it always shortens our time to prepare…Whenever they do fire drills or a hold in place, we’re like “oh no!” because we have to stop cooking for however long the drill is, shut everything off in the kitchen and do the drill like everyone else, but still get the meal out on time.”explained Kathy. 

As a student, it is easy to forget the impact that a 10 minute safety drill can have on our lunch staff. Regardless of any interruptions to their work, the lunch staff must have the meal ready — and it always is.

“We do appreciate it when kids say thank you. You know, when you hear please and thank you, it always makes us happy.” said Kathy

Out of students’ line of sight, our lunch staff juggles many different tasks and deals with a variety of innate challenges in their profession, yet manages to deliver a warm and friendly attitude with students every day. 

“We put our heart and soul into making the stuff here” said Kathy. So next time you grab lunch in the cafeteria, remember that it didn’t just appear out of thin air; a great deal of planning and preparation goes into every meal, everyday. 

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About the Contributor
Aidan Schneider, Editor-in-Chief
Aidan is a senior at Hen Hud and this is his second year with The Anchor, serving as Editor-in-Chief. Outside of school, Aidan likes to hang out with his friends, go to the city, listen to music, (Downtempo, Alternative, and Pop Rock), and read educational publications. He plays cello with the school orchestra and piano outside of school.
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    Kelly BassettNov 13, 2023 at 9:03 pm

    I had no idea that the staff in the cafeteria encountered so many challenges. Their role in helping to feed our children deserves a round of applause!

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