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The Penndulum

The Penndulum

Behind the scenes: Central Middle School Cafeteria

Central Middle School
Central Middle School

High school cafeterias have so many students that they have to feed that the relationship between lunch lady and student is hard to come by. Therefore, I thought it would be important to go behind the scenes to provide a glimpse of who the Central Middle School’s Cafeteria Manager, Tracy Benckert, is.

Tracy Arrives at work at 5:45 – 6:00 a.m. to get the day started. She unlocks all locked items like refrigerators and freezers and turns on all the hot wells, cold wells, hot boxes, and steamers. When asked what food she puts out first she said, “I take out the cold items first like the cereals, muffins, the juice cups, and fresh or canned fruit” She always prepares breakfast and lunch the night before but for the hot food she starts making it at 6:20 a.m., so the students can eat them by 7:30 a.m. The most time-consuming item to make is the breakfast sandwiches. Tracy puts the sandwiches together by hand and individually wraps the sandwiches so that if a student wants to take it out of the cafeteria he or she can travel with it if needed.

The sandwiches are not the only thing that is on the menu, so she tells students that if he or she want to take a hot food item outside of the cafeteria that is not already in the to-go baggie then she would wrap it up for the student. Tracy is the only person at breakfast with a constant revolving door. Tracy believes she sells 64-100 breakfast items in half an hour. As the morning goes on her coworkers slowly arrive at work, Tracy said, “ I think I have four or five coworkers by the time they all get to work. The process of buying food for the cafeteria to serve is a stressful one. When asked what kind of skills a person has to acquire to be happy in this job. Her response was, “You need to be very organized, and detail-oriented and you must love students and children. At the end of the day, knowing that children get fed daily, and I can provide that is a great feeling.”

As well as having to make sure that enough food has been ordered, she also has to be constantly aware of what food she is giving to the students. As far as responsibilities, Tracy gives a sneak peek at how much she does and how much she needs to be on top of and aware of things, ”You have to be aware of the state guidelines on what can and cannot be served, you need to be aware of all your carb counts and calorie counts and sodium counts for each item and that needs to be accessible at all times if a parent calls for it or if a nurse calls for it. Also, you need to be aware of all allergies and medical plans of every student who has one in your building. If a child is gluten-free, for instance, and it is noted that there is a medical plan. You need to provide food that they can eat at all times. You must order weekly from all your appropriate vendors, and make sure you have all and enough food to provide for each meal for each day. There are strict deadlines that you need to follow for ordering, so therefore, it needs to be on time, There are no extensions ever. ” Tracy has many planner books and recipe books to help her stay on track.

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About the Contributor
Paige Agnew, Student Writer
Paige Agnew, Grade 12. Interests/hobbies include running, dancing, hiking, link crew, and hanging out with friends and family. Paige plans to attend Arcadia Univerity to study physical therapy.

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