The Lowdown on Your Kid's Cafeteria From a Lunch Lady

school cafeteriaThere's such an air of dread, mystery and misery about a school lunchroom.

The cafeteria is certainly not just a place to eat, but also a microcosm of kids interacting without the confines of a classroom.

It's the cafeteria workers of the school who are on the front lines observing and interacting with our children who get a glimpse into that life every day. Bless their hearts.

While each cafeteria is distinct and diverse from the others across the United States, I caught up with one lunch lady, Erin Austin who has worked at a grade school outside Orlando, Fla. for three years, to hear what goes on in her school.

You may be surprised at what she has to say ...


Instead of horror stories about rude and obnoxious students and complaints about hair nets, she actually likes her job.

While she never dreamed she'd be a lunch lady, she has found it to be a good job that is flexible enough to allow her to be with her own children during summers and vacations. And, as a foodie at heart, she gets to spend her time doing what she loves -- cooking.

She says they use a lot of fresh ingredients and present the children with plenty of options.

But what do they really spend their lunch money on?

"Junk," she said. "Slushies, cookies, fries and chips. I'd say maybe a third of the kids get fruit or a salad with their meals because it come with it."

Whether they eat them or not, who knows.

While you might imagine hordes of insolent and insulting children to be on the job's downfalls, she says the students she encounters are generally polite, though a lot of them get detentions and have to spend time cleaning the tables.

"Most kids behave pretty well. You do see kids cut in line to be with their friends, and some of the older kids try to bully and act cool. But it's normal kid stuff, at least with the age group I work with."

The worst part of her job? The heavy cleaning they do in the kitchen and stockrooms.

So there you have it, from at least one lunch lady who says the lunch room and being a lunch lady are a lot better than you perhaps expected.

Certainly much better than Adam Sandler's portrayal of Lunch Lady Land, which though far from accurate is still pretty funny. And please note that Erin Austin is a hot mama and looks nothing like the one portrayed int his video.


Do you worry about what your child eats and how he or she acts in the school cafeteria?

Image via elisasizzle/Flickr

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