The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Food for thought

From breakfast to lunch, cafeteria workers prepare food to meet FDA guidelines and to keep students full.

By the time the 7:40 bell rings, kitchen manager Joy Greenhalgh has already been at school for more than two hours. Every day, she arrives at 5:30 a.m., ready to begin another day of cooking.

Cafeteria workers flit throughout the kitchen, simultaneously preparing breakfast and lunch for the students. The stainless steel appliances glint in the fluorescent lights; it’s difficult to hear over the clanking of pots and pans and beeping of timers. The freezers quietly hum, stocked with the food that will soon be in the stomachs of students.

Photo by BauerAll of the food for lunch must be done by 11 a.m., although normally head cook Mickey Robertson attempts to have the food done beforehand so the cafeteria workers can eat. Robertson has learned how much food is needed each day through her years of experience, Greenhalgh said.

“My cook’s pretty good. She’s got you down to the last entrée usually during lunch. She’s pretty good at knowing what you guys like and how much to make,” Greenhalgh said.

Robertson agrees.

“I’ve been here long enough to know now that if I don’t have at least eight cases , which is 400 orders, I’m in deep trouble.”
Robertson learns how much food is needed for each year in the first two to three weeks of school.

“This year, right now, I’ve got it down pretty good. But then next year, when the new ninth graders come in, you’ve got to watch them,” she said.

The cafeteria tries to have options for all dietary needs, as well as meet nutritional guidelines (see sidebars.) Alongside meat items, vegetarian dishes are provided, such as veggie burgers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as pasta with marinara sauce at the Carb Station. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available as sides. (See sidebar) The cafeteria also accommodates special diets.

“I’ve got one girl who brings her sandwich in to me and I warm it up because she has Celiac Disease. She has to watch her flour,” Robertson said.
Some of the hardest days for the cafeteria are late starts or early releases.

“I hate because it seems like I no more than feed you guys and then you’re all back here looking at me wanting food,” Robertson said. “I said to one kid, ‘I just fed you breakfast, why are you back here?’”

Greenhalgh said the busiest days are Mondays and Fridays.

“We have a saying around here, on Fridays, you guys are filling up for the weekends and on Mondays, you’re coming in and filling up because you haven’t eaten all weekend.”

Robertson agreed.

“Sometimes I think parents tie you out in the yard and don’t let you in the house to eat.”

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Food for thought