Behind the scenes: the ladies of BC’s cafeteria

Abby Ng, Online Editor

As hungry high schoolers impatiently count down the minutes, staring at the taunting clock and listening to their growling stomachs until it is finally time for lunch, we may sometimes forget all of the hard work and planning that goes into providing our midday meal. We rarely think about the lunch ladies in the Brookfield Central kitchen.

But every morning, most likely before you even wake up, the lunch ladies arrive at Brookfield Central and begin preparing for lunch. They work side by side to put together the best meals possible, to make sure every student is fed and ready to learn.

Mrs. Mary Golab, the kitchen manager, gets to school at 6:15 a.m. to account for inventory and prepare for the rush of ravenous teenagers. At 7:30 a.m. the rest of the lunch ladies arrive, the cafe opens and breakfast is served. Once students are in first block, each lunch lady is in charge of setting up one of seven stations, including the à la carte racks and the salad and sandwich bars. Everyone has a job to do, and they each do it well. “I consider it [the cafeteria] a restaurant,” Mrs. Golab said with pride. “It really is a small business.”

And at the very head of the business is Golab, planning menus, ordering food and ensuring they make a profit. But most importantly, she is always searching for what is new and what will interest and nourish kids.

The new lunch program, with greater selections and more freedom with portions, allows Mrs. Golab to order and feed students what they want. She even strives to get the students involved in planning menus. Starting in Jan. 2016, Mrs. Golab hopes to introduce a “Lancer Day” once a month, a day when the lunch ladies serve signature foods chosen by the student body. And for those who are vegetarian or gluten free, Mrs. Golab is also open to new recipe ideas.

“We want suggestions from the students. All they have to do is come to us with a recipe, and we will try to find something as similar as possible,” Mrs. Golab assured.

The same passion that Mrs. Golab demonstrates through her dedication to students is shared by every single lunch lady at BCHS. For Ms. Charlynne Smith, her passion for food and cooking brought her to her first year as a lunch lady.

“I’m really enjoying it so far. The kids are very polite, and it is so satisfying knowing they like the food,” Ms. Smith said.

Ms. Kathy Brezgel echos that same sentiment. She recently retired from working as a lunch lady, but could not resist interacting with students. “I love getting to know the students, joking with them,” Ms. Brezgel beamed. She also loves working with the girls in the kitchen. “It is such a nice atmosphere,” Ms. Brezgel said. “Work can be fun because we all laugh and talk while everyone pitches in.”

Everyday, the lunch ladies work hard to feed the students of BCHS. Day after day, Ms. Smith puts together the salads, Ms. Brezgel organizes the Grab and Go station in the corner of the cafeteria, and Ms. Golab searches for new foods. They love their jobs, and they love the students. So next time when you are at the lunch line, smile or have a short conversation with them. It is these little things that make their day.

When asked about her favorite part of being a lunch lady, Mrs. Golab gleefully responded, “The students’ faces after seeing new things. That’s one of the best parts about being a lunch lady.”