School lunches have come a long way since many of us were in school. Our memories of Friday pizza day and lukewarm tater tots are not the reality of today’s students. While all meals served as part of the National School Lunch Program must meet federal requirements, decisions about specific foods and preparation methods are made by local school districts and their staff.
At Bancroft Elementary School, the team responsible for ensuring that meals and snacks are nutritious and appealing is led by Mrs. Jane Davis. Mrs. Davis has worked with the District since 2006. She began working in the dish room at Kennett Middle School, moved to Mary D. Lang Kindergarten Center to become the cafeteria assistant manager, and has been the cafeteria manager at Bancroft Elementary School since it opened six years ago. Mrs. Davis and her husband have been married for 34 years. They have two sons and five (soon to be six) grandchildren. She enjoys visiting the beach, crafting, cooking, and camping.
Members of the team are Mrs. Linda DiLuzio, Mrs. Anna Zavala, and Mrs. Isabell Baeza. Together, they prepare breakfast daily for approximately 70 students and a hot lunch for an average of 300 students.
Mrs. DiLuzio has been with the District for 17 years. She started at Kennett Middle School the year it opened and moved to Bancroft Elementary School six years ago to help open the kitchen. She and her husband have four children and four grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, visiting the New Jersey shore, and reading.
Mrs. Zavala joined the Kennett Consolidated School District last year. She previously worked on a mushroom farm. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and making cakes for parties.
Mrs. Baeza has been with the District for eight years; this is her first year at Bancroft. When she is not in the kitchen there, she can be found in her own kitchen making tamales for her family.
Upon arriving to work each day, the woman fall into their routine, working together to prepare the day’s meals. Mrs. Davis explains that everyone is cross-trained so that they can do each other’s jobs. From preparing fresh salads and vegetables to serving students and working the register, the kitchen is a very busy place.
“These ladies are three of the most kind, hardworking people I know,” Mrs. Davis comments. “The four of us work together to make sure that each child gets the most delicious, healthy meal every day.”
Mrs. Baeza loves her job and appreciates that every day brings something new. She especially loves seeing the students. Mrs. Zavala agrees, adding that it is a very positive work environment.
As cafeteria manager, in addition to preparing and serving food, Mrs. Davis orders and monitors inventory, ensures that the team follows ServSafe regulations, and maintains accurate records.
The team is excited that, for the first time, this year they will be incorporating into the lunch menu produce from the raised bed gardens that the elementary school started tending in 2016. The students will be able to sample Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage that they planted and watched grow.
“Children need healthy food to grow, learn, and play,” Mrs. DiLuzio says. “We work together every day to make the cafeteria a pleasant place for us and for the students.”