Cafeteria Manager McNair
October 30, 2015
For many, the thought of a school cafeteria has been influenced by the stereotypical mean old lunch lady serving a spoonful of gloop. However, Centennial’s cafeteria is nowhere near that, as cafeteria manager Marcia Mcnair works hard to turn starving and deprived students into happy, full ones with a delicious warm meal. For Mcnair, cooking is not just a job, but a passion as well.
Mcnair has plenty of experience with school lunches, as this is her 12th year working in a school cafeteria and her eighth year at Centennial. Her typical day involves making sure everything is ready and working, and unfortunately, a ton of paperwork.
“I come in in the mornings and make sure everyone’s got what they need to get the kids fed on time,” Mcnair said. “Then I make sure things run smooth during the day, and I do a lot of paperwork, my least favorite part.”
The menu served each day is set by the central office, and the cooks are required to follow it. However, if Mcnair could choose what to serve, she’d make things a little different.
“I would probably change our pizza and come up with a different kind,” Mcnair said. “I like to make pizza, and I would like to come up with a homemade type.”
Working in the cafeteria usually guarantees plenty of interaction with kids and staff. Mcnair says that’s her favorite part of her job, especially when she feels appreciated.
“There have been a lot of interactions with students, and the best is probably when students come in and give thank you cards and little gifts,” Mcnair said. “It’s always nice when you feel appreciated and part of the school, not just a mean old lunch lady.”
Centennial’s cafeteria system runs pretty smoothly, but Mcnair says some more room would make things more efficient.
“I wish we had some more space to get the kids through faster,” Mcnair said. “To me that’s the hardest part, so they all have time to eat.”
According to thinkprogress.org, a national poll showed that more than 80 percent of Americans support healthy school meals consisting of more fruit and vegetables and less high calorie and sodium food choices, ideals outlined in First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to end childhood obesity. Two-thirds of respondents rated the nutritional quality of cafeteria food as “excellent” or “good.” Additionally, more than 90 percent of those surveyed said it’s somewhat or very important to serve nutritious foods in schools and strengthen children’s cognitive abilities.
This information holds true in Centennial’s cafeteria, as McNair is noticing a change in menu.
“The food is getting healthier, but I think what we can serve is narrowed because we have to follow the guidelines,” Mcnair said. “But it’s definitely getting more nutritious. Overall this is a good thing.”
A change towards healthy in what the students are buying is becoming slightly more evident in the cafeteria. However, most still go for the classic hamburger.
“The students are taking a little more fruit, not the vegetables as much, but definitely more fruits,” Mcnair said. “They’re still preferring the hamburgers and cheeseburgers and basic stuff, though, more than the salads.”
Overall, Mcnair wouldn’t want to see a change in what the students buy as most know what they want.
“I think that they’re picking pretty healthy choices, most of them,” Mcnair said. “You kind of see the same kids in the same lines, so I think they pick a favorite and stick with it.”
Although Mcnair enjoys her job with both feet on the ground, she dreams of being able to fly.
“If I could have one superpower, it would be to fly,” Mcnair said. “I’d be the fastest way to get where I’m going.”
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