This week was Friends and Family day at the school. Several of us moms donned aprons and disposable gloves to help slop dressing and plate up special requests (what do kids have against sweet potatoes?) since the cafeteria would be serving more than twice its usual capacity. After all my years being at the mercy of lunch ladies, I got the experience of eyes silently beseeching me not to let the green beans touch the dressing.
As we fumbled with unwieldy trays and consolidated the aluminum pans, it was apparent we were not in our element. When the line backed up, we furitively tapped the spoons harder and shook the rolls apart in an effort to speed up. One mom confessed, “I’m just happy I don’t do this everyday. It will be such a relief to be finished.” It occurred to me what a skill it is to keep a food line moving, and the importance of leaving a spot open for the milk carton.
Only the regular lunchroom staff could have been more relieved than we were to see the mini-shift end. While they had done all the hard work of preparing the food and manning the kitchen, we had a new respect for what it takes to serve a hot meal to a few hundred people every day.
So to cafeteria workers everywhere, from school lunchroom personnel to the volunteers at the Jimmy Hale mission, here’s a grateful thanks and a promise not to complain when the roll tips over into the gravy.