Unsung Heros Part III: Lunch ladies


OHS lunchroom staff

Editor Note: This is part three of a three part series.

At the Owatonna High School, there are 13 lunch ladies. Most lunch ladies are at the OHS from 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The daily schedule of most lunch ladies goes as follows: Arrive at 6 am, do preparation for breakfast, cook lunch, serve breakfast, clean-up after breakfast, preparation for lunches, serve lunches, clean-up and get things prepared for the next day. Their schedule and for how long they work varies depending on if they work part-time or full-time. Cook/cashiers, food service assistants and managers are the three positions of the lunch ladies at the OHS.

These ladies all enjoy being around high school students. Denise Sibenaller said, “If you don’t love kids, you don’t do this job, because that’s the high point.” Sibenaller has been working here for 18, years so she has many memorable moments. One being when a rabbit got in the kitchen through the window. That was many years ago and the windows have been remodeled since then so do not worry. She says that chipotle day is a hard day to serve because there are a lot of things they need to prepare. She also said it is getting harder and for them to fit the menu to the new federal guidelines with requirements of no salt, fat or sugar. The new guidelines go into effect at the beginning of next school year, and this time, it will affect the à la carte.  A pet peeve she has is when, once in a rare while, kids pick on other kids in line and she overhears it. Sibenaller typically tells the kids to stop and they listen. She really enjoys talking to the kids and making jokes as they go through the line.

Jennifer Yoder has been working at the OHS for 20 years. She said, “We do have a lot of fun here. We laugh a lot. It’s just fun being around high school kids because I enjoy teenagers.” The hardest part of Yoder’s job is when the schedule changes, i.e. two-hour late starts and snow days. It becomes hard to predict the quantity of food they need to prepare. She likes having something to do all the time and the rush of her job.

Ever wonder why there are only lunch ladies and not lunch gentlemen? In Sibenaller’s 18 years of working at the OHS she only remembers one man who ever applied. He worked one day and never came back. She said, “He worked at a gas station and said he knew how to run a register, but unless you’ve ever worked in a commercial kitchen or seen how fast these lines go. We get an average of maybe three seconds per kid to see what they have, enter it in, tell them if they have money and put the money in.” The lunch ladies said kids usually say “Thank You”, but it would not hurt to remember manners. Be thankful for the hard work lunch ladies do at the OHS to serve students and staff.