Essential Linda: Feeding a community

Essential Linda: Feeding a community

Cheyanne Jauregui

While students are at home protecting themselves from the COVID-19 pandemic, Lugo staff still wake up in the morning and go to work at the campus. The workers that are not talked about as much as teachers are cafeteria workers that have also been hard at work despite the virus.

Many changes were made so all the employees in the cafeteria could come back to work but of course, it has not been the same since the COVID-19 pandemic. Miss. Linda, the cafeteria manager, has implemented the new procedures in light of the pandemic. She shares what has changed, how she and her team are dealing with these changes, and what keeps her and the team motivated to continue their work.

They are provided with “necessary PPE- Personal Protective Equipment” to protect themselves and the families receiving the lunches from the virus. The health of the workers is a number 1 priority since they are handling the food that is distributed to families. So they make sure that all the worker’s temperatures are taken, facemasks are worn, and gloves are on at all times. They also sanitize and disinfect their workplace every day multiple times a day.

Miss Carrie is preparing a hot meal consisting of Fajita chicken, rice, and pinto beans that will be put in the heat warmer to await being packaged and given out to families at the curbside pickup (Photo Courtesy: Linda Ferriera)

Miss. Linda explains the process of putting together meals. First thing in the morning they clean their stations and go on to bag all the cold food items. If the food is in sealed packages it is brought to the “proper temperature” and put in the warming unit until serving time. Unpackaged food is cooked, put them in their proper containers, and put in lunch bags.

Next, they take out the prepared bags for the day, they log all the temperatures for the food, and they roll out warming units so that they are ready to serve. They hand the meals through the windows of cars while both parties wear masks. Serving usually goes to 1 o clock. After they are done they go on to record the amount of food that was served. Then continue the process of cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing once again so they are ready for the next day.

Miss. Dawn and Miss. Carolyn are bagging the fruits, vegetables, milk, and breakfast entree. (Photo Courtesy: Linda Ferriera)

Miss. Linda explains how she is not worried about the virus when she goes to work because of all the precautions that are taken to maintain the health of the workers. She is instead more motivated to go to work every day and serve her community. She loves her job and says, “This the closest to normal that some students get. They get a break from the computer and get to see a friendly face they know, the parents also get a break. Everyone is so grateful and kind- that is motivation enough!”

She exclaims that working as an essential worker has been an absolute “blessing, a true joy, and very rewarding.” When she hands out lunches she sees that the students are filled with joy to be getting their lunches. The students have shown their gratitude by giving the lunch ladies: drawings, cards, and thankyou notes. She says, “The best feeling is their smiling faces as well as the thankfulness expressed by their parents.” Miss. Linda explains how she knows it’s a hard time for many families because of so many people being let go from their jobs due to the pandemic. So being able to serve food to so many families that rely on school lunches has been very rewarding for her.

Cafeteria lunch workers can be easily taken for granted and overlooked but they do serious hard work and have even more so because of difficult times. All these amazing women get up every day and serve a lot of families while keeping a smile on their own faces. They have taken the necessary precautions to be able to do this honorary work. Don Antonio Lugo is thankful to have such dedicated workers that represent the school.