By: Scarlett O’Comartun and Jude Harvey
As Baltimore School for the Arts students step into their lunch period and line up next to other students on their way to look at the food from the lunch line, they are greeted with a smile from behind the counter.
Lunch is a vital part of the schedule. A time to sit and take a break, take care of last-minute school work, or see their friends while eating a Philly cheese steak or another snack. But do they really ever think about the people behind the food?
The two women who prepare the school lunches for every BSA student are named Loretta Morning and Kiteira Jones. Morning is the “Cafeteria Manager”. She has been working for 24 years as a lunch lady, so she has had plenty of experience. Jones is a “Food service worker.” She has been working in food service for seven years, and in retail before that.
“I love BSA because you all are older, nicer, more understanding,” said Morning. “Don’t get me wrong, whatever schools I was assigned to work at, I loved it, but y’all are more mature.”
Jones and Morning get to BSA around 6:30 am. Joined by most of the staff at school they get to work early to prepare for their busy day ahead. Their first task is to clean the kitchen and complete any paperwork needed. Not only do they cook, but they sweep, mop, and keep everything in order.
Morning makes sure to go around to the oven, warmers, and freezers and logs the temperatures to make sure all of their equipment is up to par with the code. “Just like it was our house, we do everything: cook, clean, and sanitize,” Morning said.
Then they prepare and serve breakfast. When asked about breakfast, both of them explained that they wished more kids came in for the early morning meal. Breakfast numbers at BSA are low which is unfortunate because it’s one of the most important meals. “Some kids need breakfast to start the day, so come in and get fruit, milk, just to start your day off,” says Morning.
After breakfast, they begin the huge task of preparing lunch for the hundreds of kids they feed each day. Food is prepared by the women at an earlier date and then put back in the freezer, ready to be cooked. They start by putting trays of food in the oven to serve for the first two or three periods of lunch.
As that time goes on they might have to prepare more meals in which they store food in the warmers and cook more. After the rush of students come in to get lunch they close the doors and prepare for the next period.
The lunch food is organized and sent from Baltimore City. The women referred to a schedule hanging on the door of what foods the Baltimore school district arranged for BSA to have every day for the month of October. One day is labeled “Chicken patty” and the next “Pizza”.
Now, this food is not often seen as nutritious by some, but Jones and Morning say it’s more so because of how they prepare it.
“I think the food is nutritious based on how we present the food. Every cafeteria should make the food presentable so the kids will come in and eat it,” says Morning.
“I would like, though, to have different fruits and things. It would be nice for them to have a survey so they can tell us what they like,” Jones adds, referring to the kids.
“Oh, there’s one more thing we wanted to tell you,” says Morning. “When we make the food, we make it with love.”
So, the next time you are digging into a chicken sandwich or going back for an extra ketchup packet, make sure to think of Jones and Morning, and all the work they put in for you.
To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at email@example.com.
Headline photo caption:
The lunch ladies of BSA, Loretta Morning (Left) and Kiteira Jones (Center). Photo by Ella Haber for the BSA Muse.