9 Things Your Lunch Lady Wishes You Knew
They served up your school lunch every day, but how much do you really know about your lunch lady?
It’s Heavy Lifting
Being a lunch lady is hard work. Most of the food ingredients come in industrial sizes, like enormous cans of vegetables and fruits or huge bags of mixes, which means you have to be in pretty good shape to whip up a meal for a couple hundred students. Luckily, we’ve scaled down our favorite cafeteria copycat recipes.
Pizza Is Just a Vehicle for Vegetables
Contrary to popular belief, Congress does not view pizza as a vegetable. However, tomato paste has historically been treated as one by school officials. Surprisingly, one-eighth of a cup of tomato paste is considered to have as much nutritional value as half a cup of vegetables. Because of this, pizza is a top pick for getting students their daily dose of veg. Up next: Read up on why nutritionists are saying that pizza is healthier than breakfast cereal.
The Kitchen Is Spotless
School kitchens have very rigorous cleaning schedules. Every surface is sanitized multiple times a day, and lunch personnel wash their hands constantly. They also adhere to strict guidelines concerning food temperatures and food safety. All that to say, their kitchen is definitely cleaner than yours.
Lunch Ladies Don’t Make the Menu
While this may seem like a “I don’t make the rules” kind of excuse, it’s actually true. Lunches are strictly scheduled by the lunch planner of the school or district, and lunch ladies have very little control over what’s being served on the trays that day. Can you imagine meal planning for hundreds of kids, every single day? Start small with these 14 tips on meal planning for your own family.
Extra Food Is Often Donated to Charities
Many schools have programs set up with local food banks or homeless shelters. Any leftover pans of food get frozen to be picked up in the evening and brought to those in need. If you want to make a difference with your dollar, buy from these companies—they give back to their communities in a big way.
They’ll Sometimes Give the Food a Makeover
Lunch ladies have all kinds of tricks to make food look more appetizing, like cutting vegetables into fun shapes, or “blushing the pears” by sprinkling a little powdered jello on top (and that’s not the only genius gelatin trick). Anything to stop food from ending up in the trash!
They Eat the Food, Too!
Cooks working in school kitchens usually get one free meal as a perk of the job. And for most, they say the food is pretty tasty. Ready to reminisce? Here are the trustiest recipes we learned in home ec.
They Want Parents to Come to Lunch
People who work in cafeterias see the whole social scene of the school, and they believe that if you really want to know what your kid’s school is like, you should come to lunch. They’d be happy to serve you, too. Just remember to call the school administrator ahead of time to get the go-ahead.
They Really Love Their Jobs
Unlike the cartoon, cranky lunch lady you see on TV, most people working for student lunches do it because they enjoy interacting with the students. It’s the reason they get up and go to work! Some cafeteria workers even become close with the students and their families and see them grow up and have families of their own.
Looking for more job secrets? These are seven things you only learn by working at Costco.