Ask a Jag: Cafeteria Staff

Nandini Dasari and Tina Luo

This week’s Spotlight Jags are our wonderful cafeteria staff: Darrell O’brient, Debra Johnson, Johnny Mohe, Debbie Martin, Kim Presley, Tammy Spinhirne, and Trisha Archibald. 

Interview courtesy of Trisha Archibald


Q: What is the best part about working in the school system?

A: “For one, the days off. Summer, Christmas, you know. I also get to meet a lot of new people, like one of the counselors, Mrs. Berry. It’s always a good time when you see Mrs. Berry. And I meet a lot of kids. Some of the kids are real nice. But I don’t really talk to the kids that much. They’re a little sweet and sour. I think with COVID and everything, it’s harder. Before, I used to work in the coffee shops, so I used to see the kids and teachers more, and it was cool.”


Q : What is something you think people wouldn’t know about your job?

A : I think the pay. People believe we get paid a lot of money, but we do not. It’s crazy. Also, you keep moving so you don’t get bored, and every day we’re supposed to make something different. But with the world being totally different it’s kind of hard because there’s so many kids here. You have to basically make the same thing every day for everybody to eat. I think they did free lunches because a lot of parents lost their jobs, people passed away, and they just want to make sure that all of the kids have lunch.”


Q: Is there a predetermined menu, or are you able to choose and suggest meals? What is your favorite thing to prepare?

A: “Predetermined. Y’all probably think we have a say in what y’all eat, but we don’t. But if it’s something where the shipment didn’t come in, then we could adjust accordingly. Most of the stuff comes from the lunch program, which is run by the government. Whatever they choose is what we get. For example, the chicken is Tyson brand. It is, I don’t want to say ‘modified’, but to me the calories, the grain… all of that stuff is already factored in. I think the chicken breading is whole wheat or whole grain, whereas if you go to the store it’s regular flour.”

“I like when we make food food, like jambalaya and mac-and-cheese.”


Q: Do you like to cook at home?

A: “Yes. I’m from the Caribbean, so mostly Caribbean dishes.”


Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: “I think some of the kids could try to be a little bit more respectful. I don’t have a say: you get your free lunch, and anything else you have to pay for. We understand that some of them might still be hungry, but we try. It’s not necessary to be rude. And the funny thing is, when you’re polite to people, you tend to get away with more stuff. We’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh, that kid is so sweet, maybe he’s hungry. Okay baby you can have an extra burger.’”