Lunch by the Hundreds


Kevin Berns

The cafeteria staff jokes around while taking their group photo for the yearbook.

Brendan Johnson, Editor-in-Chief

With the food just set out under the heat lamps and chaos looming, the lunch staff waits at their positions for the bell. When it sounds, a slight rumble can be heard and the faint voices of students down the hall quickly grow louder as they stampede towards their lunch. The lunch staff waits with smiles on their faces, like ecstatic deer in the headlights.
“To me, that bell means ‘show time,’” Food Service Consultants Manager Felicie Van De Riet said. “I get out there and all of a sudden I feel invigorated.”
Many confuse the lunch staff as school employees; however they are employed by Food Service Consultants, a catering company, under the management and supervision of Van De Riet, who has served the school for over 30 years.
“I get more out of my job here than I could have ever given,” Van De Riet said. “I have a lot of fun getting to know and joke around with the boys.”
Behind the scenes, the staff is a well-oiled machine, with each person having specified roles, from hot sandwiches to pastas. The system allows them to function as efficiently as possible.
Kathleen Baldi has been serving students at the school since 2010, and did so at St. Joseph’s Academy before.
“If you have ever worked in a restaurant then you know that it’s always give and take,” Baldi said. “You always have your set job, but that’s not the only thing you are doing; you are doing whatever needs to be done to get that food out there.”
When the bell rings and part of the school swarms into the cafeteria, each individual is not just another face to the lunch staff.
“Seeing the boys come out every day is my best way of entertainment,” Van de Riet said. “It’s amusing having all the boys come through my line, and I love when they do.”
Van De Riet takes pride in the fact that she orders and has her staff cook the best food she can find.
“I always purchase what I would be proud to serve. There is no cutting corners; only the best,” Van de Reit said. “I want [the students] to have the best.”
Serving food to a school of more than 800 students and faculty is not an easy task. Going through the motions of serving them can be stressful at times for the staff, but the majority of the Food Service Consultants can attribute their survival to one thing: a sense of humor.
“If you don’t take this job with a sense of humor, you will never make through it,” Baldi said. “It’s stressful in the back always making sure everything is ready. Like most job’s, if humor isn’t a part of it, things just won’t work out.”