Cafeteria Staff Provide Lunches to Homebound Students


Siena McGarrigle, Editor in Chief

In the midst of the 2020-21 school year’s virtual setting and unprecedented challenges, the cafeteria staff worked together to ensure students still had access to nutritious food. 

“There was so much going on with the buses, the deliveries and the holiday boxes,” Cafeteria Manager Clareesa Smith said. “For those alone, we did over 900 boxes an hour, and in those 900 boxes, there was up to seven days worth of food, so it’s really hard to actually say how many meals we prepared. We did the holiday boxes for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring Break and Memorial Day. That’s not counting the regular lunches we did, so I want to say 30,000 or 40,000 lunches, which is a lot of food.”

From preparing the meals and loading the vans for delivery to managing curbside pick up, the lunch staff worked hard year-round to make food accessible to students. 

“Curbside in this area went from when we first started up until January or February of this year, so I’ve been doing that for a while, outside in cold, wrapped up like an Eskimo. I’ve been through all the weather’s changes: fall, spring, winter, and summer doing curbside,” Smith said.

Smith explains the more difficult aspects of working in the cafeteria throughout the previous school year. 

“The challenge of putting lunches together in the midst of last year was making sure that you had all the ingredients that you needed, all the components you needed,” Smith said. “You had to make sure you had the milk, you had to make sure you had the vegetables and fruits and entrees, which is kind of hard with worker shortages, either people not working or people home sick.” 

The effects of the pandemic and worker shortages impacted the cafeteria staff team. 

“I had people with low immunity or health issues that decided not to work when the pandemic started. So, I had half of my original people and half of people slowly coming in,” Smith said. “It was challenging making sure I had enough people to do everything that we did then and making sure I had enough people to make sure everything got done.”

Regardless of last school year’s changes and stress, Smith was able to adjust to post-pandemic dynamics and be a consistent leader for the cafeteria.

“The most challenging part of this has been adapting to so many different people. Since all this had started, I want to say I’ve had at least six different staff, because when things changed, they changed everybody. I am the only constant that has been in the cafeteria since this all started, which is a blessing,” Smith said.