I’VE worked in the kitchen at a couple of public schools, all of them in Queens.
In 1989, I started at IS 109 in Queens Village, as a School Lunch Helper. Then I moved to PS 36 in St. Albans, after that PS 15 in Springfield Gardens. I’ve been back at IS 109 since 2007, as a Senior School Lunch Assistant.
Things have changed since when I first started.
We used to prepare more meals from scratch, then we do now. But the lunches we prepare now are healthier. We serve the kids more vegetables and fruits, less salt and less fat. We have more variety now too, more ethnic flavors.
We feed around 750 kids daily for lunch. And we prepare breakfast too, and start serving at 7 a.m. The school stays open during the summer and we feed kids from the neighborhood breakfast and lunch.
Our school has won the School of the Year award; it’s given by the Dept. of Health. We got the award for having the cleanest kitchen, the best attendance and the best teamwork in the kitchen.
My kitchen runs smoothly. Every year the Dept. of Education has the Iron Chef Competition and I came in second place a couple of years ago. I prepared my stewed chicken and vegetable fried rice dish.
Everybody here works well together and we all get along, everyone in the kitchen and the principal too.
A couple of years ago, in 2009, the DOE sent 10 of us from the district to Albany for a week to take a cooking course. My supervisor choose me. There were cooks from New York City and upstate. It was a nice learning experience.
It’s very rewarding to work with a group of people and prepare meals for young kids knowing they won’t be hungry while they sit in class and try to learn. Together with the teachers, we’re doing our part to make sure our kids learn.