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By offering marinated mushrooms, jicama coleslaw and black bean chipotle burgers, Hill-Murray’s cafeteria director Nancy Lynch hopes to add lots of flavor to the term “lunch lady.’’
“When you think of the lunch lady, you think of someone wearing a hair net plopping an unidentified heap of food on your divided tray, trying to hurry you along the line, right?’’ said Mrs. Lynch, breaking into her deep, raspy, wonderful laugh. “I want to be approachable to the kids.’’
Mrs. Lynch, who is employed by Taher Food Service Management Co., which operates the Hill-Murray cafeteria, said being friendly and engaging with students has helped her learn more about what they’ll eat and what they won’t. That approachable relationship has resulted in the cafeteria offering a wider variety of more appealing, nutritious and locally-grown food for our students.
On her own, Mrs. Lynch set up a partnership with Axdahl’s farm in Stillwater to provide locally-grown vegetables such as corn, tomatoes, squash and potatoes. She sought out a relationship with Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls to provide free-range turkey. She’s even brought farmers into the school as part of the state-wide “Farm to School’’ program, which allows students to meet the people who grow their food.
“It’s important that children understand where their food comes from,’’ she said. “Some of their food comes from so far away. Knowing the people who grow their food helps make that connection.’’
The cafeteria is located on Hill-Murray’s lower level and is the heart of our building where students, teachers and staff can go to meet friends and forget about the demands of the classroom or office for a while. The main cafeteria area opens to more dining tables in our sun-drenched Commons area next to the chapel.
Mrs. Lynch enjoys creating a warm, “homey” environment for students filled with good smells from the kitchen, decorations that reflect the season and personal greetings from her and her staff.
“I think our staff is friendly and that students feel comfortable coming up to us to tell us what they need,’’ she said.
Some of the needs expressed by students have included foods that are gluten-free, dairy-free or vegetarian. The staff has responded with a growing array of foods to suit special dietary needs.
“Students are more interested in food today,” said Mrs. Lynch. And added that students are exposed to different foods than they were a generation ago.
Mrs. Lynch gets many of her vegetables from the Hill-Murray garden in the back of the school. The garden yields crops like tomotoes, herbs, squash, zucchini and peppers.
We invite you to visit our cafeteria, meet the staff and enjoy a delicious meal. And, please say hello to our ‘lunch lady!’
Taher Foods Mission Statement
Recognizing that good nutrition has a positive effect on learning and good health, the mission of the Food Srevice Department is to provide nutritious meals to students, staff and the community-at-large, in a caring and customer-friendly environment, using menus that emphasize:
- Freshly prepared foods
- No Trans-fats
- More whole grain and legumes
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Minimally processed foods
- Decreased use of foods containing high-fructose corn syrup
Additionally, we commit to assist in educating our customers to adopt a more nutritious lifestyle.
Mary Jo Barbato
Questions or comments? Send your email to the Food Service Director, Nancy Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-748-2434.