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What's cooking?

Jasmine Stinson

November 22, 2019

Everyone knows that schools need the teachers, administration, and students to run, but no one ever stops to think about the team behind the scene that runs the kitchen.

            The life of a “lunch lady” isn’t what it seems. Becky Luebbert, head chef, has worked with the school for 19 years and has been the head chef for 4 years.

Although, the kitchen wouldn’t run without the team behind her. There are 8 full-time employees, 3 part-time employees, and 2 substitute employees.

“It’s interesting working with all of the ladies with different personalitites,” said Lubbert

Becoming a cook at the school isn’t as easy as it seems. First, they must fill out an application that they can get at the district office, and they are interviewed by Superintendent, Bill McAllister and Luebbert. They look for people who like to cook, likes kids, can lift up to 40 lbs, are friendly, and adaptable.

            Luebbert doesn’t work a typical 9 to 5 job, she arrives at the school at 6 a.m. every morning with the other employees clocking in around 7 a.m. to get ready for breakfast.

However breakfast hasn’t always been around, WPBHS didn’t start doing breakfast until it moved to the new building 10 years ago. More recently, bagged breakfast has gained popularity. There has been a push in schools to get kids to eat breakfast as it’s been proven to be the most important meal of the day.

            “We wanted to have options for kids who are in sports, seeing teachers, or just running late,” stated Luebbert. 

            Typically, a day in the kitchen consists of the ladies getting ready for breakfast and lunch. Each lady is assigned a position in the kitchen. Some cut veggies, prep the sandwich bar, and others prep the salad bar.

            The sandwich bar is popular with the students as it provides an alternative for the main course being served. Students can choose between turkey or ham and white or yellow cheese. The bread options vary from a hoagie bun to a wrap. Along with the sandwich bar there is soup. One of the most popular soups the school has is the cheeseburger soup.

            When it comes to prepping for lunch, the cooks have to take into consideration anyone with dietary restrictions. A separate meal is prepared for them for lunch.

The only major difference between getting ready for breakfast and lunch is the quantities. Usually, the number for breakfast isn’t nearly as high as it is for lunch. About 180 are served breakfast and 728 lunch preK-12.

            The number of teachers that are served at lunch has grown. About 40 teachers are served  lunch daily.

            The cost of serving 1 student lunch a week is $17.98 which puts the bill at $13,088 a week. The monthly, the bill comes to $52,352 which is $71.91 per student per month.

            All of the food served to the students has to come from somewhere, so every week, Luebbert has to put in an order. The school orders from many companies such as Cysco, Cash-Wa, and U.S. foods, trucks drop orders off every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

            Once a month when students walk into the lunchroom, they see a sign hung up saying, “Cuming county beef day.” Lubbert attended a conference in Kearney and learned about this program that was already happening at Thayer, Nebraska.

After that, cattlemen approached her and wanted the kids to have quality beef and asked if our school would be interested.

Now once a month, students can have burgers made with local beef. Since the program is funded through the county, everything is the result of donations. Lubbert hopes that if more donations are given, French dips could make an appearance on the menu.

Recently, paying lunch bills online was introduced. It makes things easier because parents and even students can log onto their Infinite Campus account and pay off their lunch bill.

With that, parents are also able to check what their child purchases. Parents can monitor every meal their child consumes along with the monthly menu that can be found on the school website.

Not only do the ladies in the kitchen make a big difference, so can students. Peg Rood, special services instructor, has her students help the ladies in the kitchen every day. After establishing what they are capable of doing, the students are assigned to clean up trash, do the dishes, or help serve.

“My favorite part of my job is watching all of the kids grow up. I’ve seen everyone since they were little kids, and it’s really cool to them grow up,” said Lubbert.

Not only do the ladies in the kitchen serve the most important meals of the day, they also provide a welcoming smile that warms the hearts of everyone in the school.

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