Food service workers serving students with smiles one plate at a time
Ann McGovern knows how to relieve children of hunger.
Five days a week, the Glenbrook Elementary School employee prepares meals and serves smiles. She always gets a helping of students who share her enthusiasm and she knows why.
“It really means a lot to them to have a smile in the morning sometimes,” McGovern said.
The food and nutrition services department for U46 is one of many school districts across the nation that is recognizing Oct. 10-14 as National School Lunch Week.
McGovern explained what it means to her to observe the significance of this week.
“National School Lunch Week means that you celebrate and you try to get more children in to participate in the lunch program as far as maybe coming in one day and going home and telling their parents, ‘well, I’ve never had this mom. Can I try that?’” she said.
McGovern said it’s important that students have the option to try new and different foods.
McGovern serves as a lead for the food services department at the Streamwood school, and is looking to retire at the year’s end.
“It’s bittersweet right now,” she said. “I’m having a tough time realizing that I’m going to be leaving all my little friends. My little friends are obviously all my students. You just become so close with them.”
Susan Pfiefer, the manager of the food services department at Ellis Middle School, mirrored that sentiment.
“The kids and the people I meet,” she said of her favorite part to working at Ellis Middle School. “The people in the district are the best people ever.”
Like McGovern, Pfiefer has worked for District U46 the last 20 years.
“I like for them to feel like it’s their home away from home,” Pfeifer said.
Pfiefer said getting to know the kids on their level is key.
“Usually, I’m in the halls talking to the kids, ‘get your breakfast. Get your breakfast,’” she said. “And at lunch, ‘I didn’t see you this morning’ if they’re missing one day. You know when the kids are missing because you’re so used to seeing them… I always have to learn their names. Every week I try to get more names.”
And it’s not just students who appreciate McGovern and Pfeifer’s customer service and helpful attitudes, said Claudie Phillips, director of food and nutrition services for District U46.
“Our motto is customer service is our signature brand,” she said. “There are some people that work just to earn money to live; there are others that are passionate about their work. These two individuals are passionate about the work that they do. They go above and beyond the call of duty to service their customers.”
Phillips said both employees exhibit what it means to embody the best of the food and nutrition services department.
“If there were employees, I would like to highlight or like to show appreciation for the work that they do, those are two individuals that stood out in my mind and both of them have years of experience,” she said.