Cancelling the cafeteria

Changes coming to the lunchroom, make it more restaurant-like


photo by Emily Cosio

Emily Cosio, News Editor

As students stand in line, grab their food and punch in their lunch number, there a lot happens behind the scenes, and it begins before most students wake up.

Dining Service Manager Erin Basilo arrives on campus at 5:30 a.m. and turns on all the equipment in the lunchroom.  She then looks over the daily menu and writes down the quantity of food needed for the day.  This changes each day depending on the menu.  She also monitors and assists all of the kitchen employees.  Another part of her job is to check in deliveries and to place orders.  She checks the finished product to be sure of quality control before serving to her guests.  

It may seem strange that she considers high schoolers as “guests,” but that is probably because of her background in hospitality management.  She has been in the restaurant business since 1992, and she has a  Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Once the guests start coming in to buy lunch, Basilo stands near the line to answer any questions and to also help manage behavior.

“I have always liked talking with people and getting to know them,” Basilo said. “Sometimes just being an ear to listen to the guest is all they want.”

She checks with the cooks to be sure the food does not run out during lunch.  After lunch, money needs to be counted and deposited.  If anyone of her employees call in sick, she needs to fill in and lend a hand. Basilo’s day ends around the same time as students.

The employees of the cafeteria agree that disrespect is the number one problem. With Basilo’s background, she is able to calmly address the situation.

“It never feels good when guest roll their eyes and talk back to you,” Basilo said. “Keeping a cool and collective head is the best.”

The school’s cafeteria is beginning to transform into being more “restaurant-like” according to Basilo.

“We are working with a new company that is helping with redesigning our dining halls,” Basilo said. “We are trying to get out of the old ways of cafeterias.”

The name of the sponsor has not yet been revealed but changes will be occurring in the near future. Rock Lake middle school was done two years ago with the new look.

An example of these changes is the food served. The cafeteria is working hard to offer more fresh and locally grown fruits and vegetables. The goal is to serve students and teachers healthier choices with better quality items.

They will also change the physical appearance of the cafeteria. The members on this project are trying to get away from the long benches and institutional feel of the dining area. They also want to bring in more color and more functional seating areas.

Basilo wants students to have “bright, happy and relaxing feelings when dining with us”.

While there is not a timeline of these changes, some of them are already in action.As the cafeteria is transforming, the hard work from the employees will not stop.

“We are working hard on getting away from the old lunch lady image. We are updating the look and working on new items to offer our guests,” Basilo said.