Oct. 13 2023
To close our celebration of National School Lunch week, we're highlighting the amazing work that happens at Issaquah High School!
This fearless team is led by Nel Santor, who focuses on refining how Issaquah High School lunches operate, as she and the lunch team are always looking for ways they can improve. She says she believes that lunch is vital to student success within the classroom, and she is proud that her team helps create an efficient environment where students are supported.
And efficient the team is! As they are consistently serving more than 550 meals every day, they take pride in the work that they do.
Santor says she appreciates the wonderful team of people she works with, and their commitment to the students. Some of the members include Hye Young Kim, Becky Hansen, Alice Yang and Jie Chen. When asked about her staff, she mentions their consistent hard work in all they roles they step into, and says,
“Our floaters do an amazing job also. They cover work for the whole school and are capable to work as a manager, assistant, and baker for (our) Food Service team.”
When visiting this team, it is evident they are extremely dedicated to ensuring they provide excellent service for the students. As students check out, listening in on their conversations makes it clear that the team takes genuine care in students’ well-being, as the members are intentional about building trusting relationships. They talk with the students about how they are doing and feeling in class, athletics and other interests – all while efficiently operating the lunchroom.
We are incredibly grateful for Santor, her team, and all the work they do every day for the students at Issaquah High School. Join us in thanking them and the Food Services teams throughout the district during National School Lunch Week!
Oct. 11, 2023
We’re taking you on a virtual field trip to Cedar Trails Elementary today, as part of our continuing coverage of National School Lunch Week. In the Cedar Trails kitchen, it’s just before the first lunch service, and teammates Holly Hasselbalch and Lisa Crisp are nearly ready to serve lunch to the Wolves.
“It's just a matter of working together and getting these kids fed. That’s our goal,” said Crisp, the school’s baker. “I’m grateful every day for working with Holly. We work really well together, and our minds work the same way.”
This month, the kitchen is adorned with pumpkins and fall-themed decor, and on this day, Crisp and Hasselbalch are both wearing sage green shirts, further underscoring their partnership.
Crisp started working in the Food Services department 16 years ago when she heard about open positions during an announcement at curriculum night. All five of her own children attended Issaquah schools, including Discovery and Sunny Hills Elementary, Pine Lake Middle School and Skyline High School. She worked in several kitchens before helping open Cedar Trails. Hasselbalch joined the department in 2009 after her youngest child started kindergarten, and after hearing good things through the years from Crisp, a longtime friend. At the time, Hasselbalch and her husband owned a business in Bellevue,* but working for the district offered the opportunity to receive full benefits, something they had been paying for out of pocket. She’s now the kitchen manager at Cedar Trails.
As the first few classes enter the cafeteria, the two chat warmly with students and staff. It’s clear they enjoy their work and each other’s company.
“It’s not even really like going to work. It’s like hanging out with my friends,” Hasselbalch said. That includes the students, who love the kitchen team and tell them so, in person and in thank you notes that hang in the kitchen office.
Crisp said they feel very appreciated by families, who often express their thanks for the meals prepared and served to students.
As for the Cedar Trails Wolves, they seem to enjoy the food, from this day’s turkey sandwich to the salad bar and fresh plums – but they particularly adore the cakes and desserts. After students who purchase hot lunch go through the line, students who brought lunch from home are able to purchase a dessert as well. It’s a popular option, particularly on days when Crisp serves chocolate chip cake.
“They just think it’s so fun to get a little something,” Crisp said. “They always wave and say ‘Hi.’ Yesterday, one student said, ‘Hey, Ms. Lisa, what’s cooking?” (Don't tell the kids, but she was working on oatmeal, which is the secret ingredient in the chocolate chip cake)!
As the two turn back to serving students and cashiering, a new group of students comes through. “Thank you,” multiple students say as they move through the line. “Thank you!”
Please join us in thanking the Food Services teams throughout the district during National School Lunch Week! And, Stay tuned later for this week when we highlight the team from Issaquah High School!
*Editor's note: This article has been updated since its original publication to correct an error about Hasselbalch's business.
Monday, Oct. 9, 2023
October 9-13 is National School Lunch Week! Please join us as we celebrate and show gratitude to our amazing Food Services staff this week and beyond. Follow along as we share photos and videos of our staff in action, preparing and serving tasty, healthy school lunches for students. School lunches are designed to meet specific nutritional needs for growing kids – helping to ensure students are healthy and ready to learn!
Maywood Middle School staff said they find working in the school cafeteria fun and rewarding. Kitchen Manager Jill Meitzel has been serving lunches at the school for 11 years and says she “can’t think of a better place to be.” Meitzel is a Maywood alum, and her own children were Chargers, too.
Thank you, Maywood Food Services crew, Jill Meitzel, Mary Duchesneau, Tikko Sihombing, and Victoria Williams. You are appreciated!
Created by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, National School Lunch Week is designated to promote the importance of healthy school lunches in a child’s life and its impact inside and outside the classroom.