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Lunch staff makes great food and atmosphere

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The lunch staff are people who students see five days a week. Lunchtime is students’ time to eat, recharge, catch up with friends and prepare for the rest of their day. However while students are relaxing, the lunch staff is hard at work. They are crucial to the functionality of students’ every day. But how much do SPA students actually know about the lunch staff?

“I know that they make food and they serve the food for us, but that’s about it. I don’t know what they do otherwise,” ninth grader Ian Matenaer said.

Bailey Hayden works on the lunch staff as a food service aid. Hayden contributes in many different areas in the lunchroom. She helps prep for lunch, stocks the food during lunchtime, and helps students with dietary restrictions and allergies.

“My favorite thing [about my job] would be talking with the kids and the teachers…knowing that I made someone’s day,” Hayden said. “I would like if it was a longer day, because I really like it here.”


Tamika Daniel is a lunch attendant at SPA. She is often the one behind the hot bar serving food during lunch time.

“[My least favorite part of my job is] not being here on the weekends with you guys,” Daniel said.

Tom Schiller is one of the executive chefs of the lunch staff at SPA. One of the things Schiller does in the kitchen is cook the food. He has been cooking for about 35 years.

“I started in high school working in a little bar, and then I went to school for chef training, and I got a two year degree in chef training. Then I worked in a restaurant for 22 years and I was executive chef there for 17 [years]. I just kind of moved around, learning from other chefs in the business,” Schiller said.

Schiller had previously worked at another school in St. Paul. He found a very different atmosphere at SPA.

“The first thing I noticed was how nice and respectful [the students were]. It’s nice to see,” Schiller said.

“I prepare most of the food, I help with the menus, making sure everything is stocked, help around the dishroom if needed, kind of helping all around the kitchen,” Schiller said.

Simon Barrow is an executive chef along with Schiller. He is also the Food Service Director at SPA. Barrow is in charge of everything food service related, including ordering the food, planning the menus, and meeting with students, faculty, and parents.

“I like the creativity [of my job]. I can be pretty creative because I don’t have a lot of restrictions like they do in public schools,” Barrow said.

One thing the lunch staff does very well is accommodate students with dietary restrictions. Sophomore Ananya Narayan has first-hand experience and speaks to the lunch staff often, given her many food allergies.

The first thing I noticed [at SPA] was how nice and respectful [the students were]. It’s nice to see. ”

— Executive Chef Tom Schiller

“They work really hard, and I am grateful that our school has such a wonderful lunch staff,” Narayan said. “They’re all such wonderful people.”

Respect is a key value in the SPA community. Many people on the lunch staff said that the majority of SPA students are respectful to them and the rest of the lunch staff.

“90 percent,” said Daniel, in regard to the amount of students that are respectful to the lunch staff.

Dawn Vraa is a prep cook and server at SPA.

“Sometimes there’s more of a general feeling that we’re there to wait on kids,” said Vraa, “It’s very few, but sometimes there’s a little bit of an attitude thing.”

Tanya Anderson, a member of the lunch staff said, students could “clean up their dishes and bring them to the dish area.”

Barrow also wanted more open communication about the food.

“Tell me your likes and dislikes. If you don’t like something, you’re not going to hurt my feelings. I try to do something for everybody, make sure there’s always something that you’ll eat, especially with so many dietary restrictions,” he said.

The SPA lunch staff works hard to provide students with a delicious meal everyday. They do a lot more than is apparent to students eating lunch.

“Just listen to what they have to say. If they say ‘please don’t take more than one’, don’t take more than one. Be respectful,” Matenaer said.

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Evelyn Lillemoe, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Sophomore Evelyn Lillemoe is an A&E editor on the Rubicon. This is her first year on staff. She loves journalism because it is an opportunity to share...

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