The following note is for someone special. YOU!
I want to take a minute to thank you for what you do most every day for our children. Whether you work part time or full time, I know you think about the children you serve even when you are not at work. It takes real effort and dedication to come in each day and work so hard – under the stress of the clock, and the bells, and the timers (while still trying to be neat and clean) – in order to have everything ready when mealtime arrives.
Even though it is tempting to take shortcuts, I’m proud of you because you don’t. I want you to know that just because people don’t always say thank you, or seem to appreciate what you do, so many others do appreciate and depend on you. I am sorry it has taken me so long to thank you for your contributions to our children.
I know it is so easy to let an unkind word, or a roll of the eyes from a thoughtless person, hijack our feelings and misdirect our focus. A simple gesture or sideways look can ruin our day – sometimes two days if we keep revisiting that one little moment. I hope you can forget those incidents and see the sincere and honest gratitude of others.
I love and admire that you make the children the focal point of your day and that you work to find the best way to nourish them. I know your job is demanding. There is not much glamour in the field of school nutrition. But, there is much love. Generations of children have eaten at school, and it is special people like you who are remembered fondly at high school reunions and old friend catch-up lunches years later.
I hung up my apron years ago and moved out of the kitchen and into the administrative office where I directed a meal program. Last year I ran into a man in his early 30s in a department store. He looked at me and he smiled. He said, “Hello, you were my lunch lady at Arrowood Elementary.” I said, “Wow!! Michael, I can’t believe you remember ME! It has been over 20 years!” He said, “Of course, I remember YOU!” He showed me pictures of his kids, and told me how his life was going. It was the kind of encounter you have with an old friend – a warm bond was still there.
Remember that the person who was short with you today, or walked away in a state of mind that you managed to take as a personal insult, will probably not think about the incident again. But the child you smiled at, the child you convinced to try a new food that she liked, the child who asked you why you wear a hairnet, and the little guy who said thank you for lunch – I am so hungry.., they will all think about you with gratitude. Granted, each one of them will not say thank you, or express that gratitude where and when you get to hear it, but so many are grateful for what you do. Many children, parents, teachers, aunts, grandmothers, principals, superintendents, board members, and me – we all are thankful for you. Thank you, thank you, and THANK YOU, AGAIN!
As much as I appreciate your efforts and wish I could give you some extra nice reward for what you do, I can’t. All I can do is agree that you are often underappreciated. And you are also needed. You are an essential part of the education that happens at school each day. Please tie up your tennis shoes one more time, slip into that stylish hairnet, find you best smile, come to work, focus on the positive, and help your community raise these children!
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Submitted by JoAnne Robinett, Trainer and Conference Keynote, Online at AMERICASMEAL.COM