The Women Behind the Counter: The ladies of the cafeteria share their experiences


Meghan Kerr, Perspectives Editor

Many JC students come to school and immediately start counting down the hours until lunch. They look forward to the “Meal of the Day” and the famous chocolate chip cookies and fries. However, the ladies behind the counter play integral roles in making this student-loved part of the day happen.

The JC cafeteria has five “lunch ladies” including Tina Gleason, Lauren Owens, Sandy Guttenberger, Rebecca Wood, and Hope Jones.

Each woman has her own job to ensure lunch and breakfast are out and ready on time for the school community.

Ms. Wood revealed that her day in the cafeteria begins at 5:30 am. She said, “I immediately start breakfast. I have breakfast done by 7:30.” She is also responsible for preparing for lunch time. She said, “I start lunch prep for that day around 6 or 6:30. . . I have lunch done and ready to go at like 10:30.”

Ms. Wood also works with Mr. Scott Porter in the cafeteria to plan the Meal of the Day, which she revealed is based off a “four-week cycle.” She said, “We just [plan] based off what the kids like.”

Ms. Jones also works alongside Ms. Wood in the mornings and “will do fruit and yogurt if we need it.” Ms. Jones also works on the register during busy lunch rushes.

Ms. Gleason is in charge of one of the fan favorite parts of the cafeteria: the fried food and the wraps/sandwiches. Her day starts at 6 am and she looks “at all the sandwiches to see what’s going to be made, slice lunch meat, and do a variety of wraps.”

Later in the morning, at about 9:30 am, Ms. Gleason starts “deep frying the chicken tenders and chicken nuggets.” She also revealed that she is in charge of making the burgers and hot sandwiches in the fried food section of the cafeteria.

Ms. Gleason revealed that she normally goes through three cases of fries, about 150 orders of chicken tenders or nuggets, and about 48 to 50 orders of mozzarella sticks each day.

Ms. Guttenberger comes in at 5:30 am every day and works to set up the various breakfast items loved by JC students.

She said, “I cut everything up for the omelet station,” and that she is “in charge of preparing all the salads.” Ms. Guttenberger also fills the cafeteria with the muffins, cream cheese cups, and bagels. Additionally, she puts out all the salads, the yogurts, and the fruit cups.

Every day, Ms. Guttenberger makes about 20 salads along with the self-serve student salad bar.

Ms. Owens is in charge of another popular item in the cafeteria: the cookies. She said, “I make about 500 cookies a day.”

Ms. Owens also runs the register and makes sure all the silverware is filled. She also makes sure the chips and the Pop-Tarts are stocked.

The large number of responsibilities faced by these women can sometimes be daunting. Ms.

Gleason said, one of the daily struggles they face working in the cafeteria is “making sure the food is out on time and ready, and we don’t run out.”

Each of these ladies heartily enjoys their job. Ms. Wood said, “I enjoy working with everybody and seeing the kids’ reactions. . . I love cooking, been cooking since I was 15.”

Ms. Gleason revealed that she likes “preparing all the food.”

The women all enjoy the community they work with as well.

Ms. Jones said they all “laugh a lot” each day in the cafeteria.

As a message to the student body, Mrs. Wood said, “Come in and say ‘Hi,’ ‘How are you,’ ‘Good Morning.’ We don’t really get that often.”

Next time you excitedly ask for the Meal of the Day, or snag a pack of cookies, make sure to say thank you to the ladies behind your meal.

For more information about the lunch ladies and the cafeteria, follow “nachoaveragekitchen” on Instagram.