Lunch Ladies: The Unsung Heroes of Blackman


Maddy Williams

She’s cooking the food for the lunch today during second period.

You wouldn’t believe how much effort goes into the food in our cafeteria. The lunch ladies put forth immense effort in order to serve students each and every day. Their preparation is an all-day event, and their actions do not go unnoticed. They spend their time preparing food, setting up all the drinks and sides in order to make them easily accessible for students, as well as making sure the entire area is clean and organized.

The staff is as follows: Cindy Brown, Nikki Daniel, Elizabeth Dentino, Patricia Ferguson, Diane Sells, Kim Luse, Kelly Devalt, Gayla Smeltzer, Debbie Young, Marlene Xiong, Devon Lo, Pam Shelnutt, Cheryl Smith, Linda Wadd, and Jamie Petzaka. We had the opportunity to interview Debbie Young.

Debbie Young was extremely passionate as she described her experiences at Blackman.

“I love it here. It has good kids, staff, and I enjoy what I do. The high schoolers are very respectful. I lived here for thirty years in the past, and I’m happy to be back,” Young stated.

She also described the amazing relationship that she has with the students here. She describes that she is always open to feedback from her students.

“I just try to feed them while giving them the best experience and food possible that’s within our control. We try to keep their environment clean. It’s always appreciated, but we are always open to suggestions,” she stated.

Rules have changed drastically over time with what they can serve to the kids. Young said that it was very difficult to adapt. She hates the amount of control and regulations the government has over what they serve.

“I’m in my 20th year, and we used to never have to deal with this. We could fix home-cooked food. It was hard when they put restrictions because there isn’t much you can do with the minimal products that meet government criteria. The personal experience is taken from us, and I don’t agree with it. It’s a disservice to students,” Young explained.

Clearly, these new regulations greatly impact the way the cafeteria runs. It’s been hard to adjust not only for them but also for students. She said that kids used to love the food they provided, but that it isn’t the same experience anymore.

She also talked about her favorite part of her job. Young has stayed committed to this career, despite the pros and cons, due to her passion for the service she can provide.

“I love feeding people and the school environment. It’s rewarding in itself. It’s what I love to do,” she stated.

She does enjoy some of the special treats that she gets to prepare for the students. It’s exciting for her to be able to reward the students with food they enjoy.

“Every now and then I get to make cupcakes as well as special foods for Thanksgiving,” Young explained.

She also explained some things that she wished she could serve to the students and add to the menu. She craves for more variety.

“I would add home-cooked food, casseroles, soups, and a salad bar. I miss when I used to be able to make my own menus using my own recipes,” Young stated.

The regulations have changed over time over what they can serve. Nutrition was emphasized and harshly enforced. Their blocked some of the creativity that the lunch ladies can create. they had to stick to the health regulations that the government enforced. 

“I feel like they create a positive environment, so everyone feels welcome at this school. It’s like a family environment,” says Mr. Wortman, World History teacher.

“I feel like they bend over backwards to help people. It’s creates a positive, helping, and caring influence on the school. It doesn’t matter who the kids is; they make sure the kid has a nutritious lunch which contributes to the community of Blackman High School,” he also mentioned.

This shows that the lunch ladies are extremely committed to their job and helping these kids get the best lunch possible. Their commitment doesn’t go unnoticed by the staff.

“Mrs. Young is so kind, and when we had authors come, she did box lunches that were excellent. She also let us store our drinks in the cafeteria for blaze bash. It’s her little kindnesses that people might not notice that make an impact,” said Misti Jenkins, librarian.

The lunchroom staff focuses on even the littlest things that make a huge difference in our school environment. They put forth their time and energy to help others.

“The lunch ladies are always doing everything they can to help the students. It’s their involvement and commitment to students that improves our school,” said Elizabeth Nelson, sophomore.

Furthermore, the lunch ladies are appreciated by the students as well. Their passion towards assisting the students emphasizes their selflessness with their job.