Celebrating National Food Service Workers Day at VUSD
September 25th, 2018
Today we’re celebrating National Food Service Workers Day by introducing some of the hard working people who feed our students every day. Get to know your WaveCrest Cafe staff!
Letha McWey, Vista High School
Letha has been the cafeteria manager for Vista High School since last year, but has been working in VUSD kitchens since 2004. Letha’s history with Vista Unified goes back decades as a 20-year volunteer and member of the school board while her kids were growing up. Eventually it was time to become more involved, and Letha was hired on as an assistant in Child Nutrition Services (CNS). Almost 15 years later, she’s managed kitchens in elementary, middle, and now high schools.
“I love going to work everyday,” she says. “I have a great staff and I love to cook so it’s a lot of fun.”
When Letha started at Vista High School she was surprised at the volume of food served to students every day. Between breakfast, nutrition break, and lunch, Letha and her team serve almost 2,000 meals every day.
“People are amazed when I tell them how many kids we serve in such a short amount of time,” she says. For example, the nutrition break is only 12 minutes long but they reach about 800 students in that amount of time. It’s not surprising that her day goes by very quickly!
Letha credits her ability to serve that many meals every day to her dedicated and tight-knit staff. But just as dedicated and committed are her student workers, who give up 15 precious minutes of their lunch to serve their fellow students.
“We couldn’t get by without them,” says Letha. “They make such a difference, and I really enjoy getting to know them.”
Letha is excited about the food she serves and can tell that the students are excited when they spot fresh plums and nectarines at breakfast and locally-grown lettuce at lunch. “We go through a lot of salads and fruit here,” says Letha. A particular favorite is the new banh mi sandwich, topped of course with fresh produce.
Something she’s most proud of is the new partnership with Feeding San Diego, which allows Vista High to donate leftover meals to people in need. “We try really hard to not have a lot of waste but we also can’t run out of food for our students,” she says. “It’s nice to know our extra sandwiches and burgers are going to those in need.”
When the last bell rings, Letha keeps busy being grandma to her 7 grandkids and remains a fixture of Vista. “I’ve been a part of the Vista community for 35 years, and I love it.”
Chris Evans, Madison Middle School
Chris Evans, the cafeteria manager at Madison Middle, says she didn’t choose this job, the job chose her.
“I went to the district office on a Thursday afternoon in September 34 years ago to apply for a gardener job,” Chris says. “The application asked if I would be interested in any other departments, so I checked food service. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Chris worked her way from a temporary position up to secondary manager. She started at Madison when the campus first opened, but it took seven years for the campus to expand to include a kitchen. Before then she served breakfast and lunch out of a small trailer. “My new kitchen is wonderful,” she says, “and I still love it.”
Over the years she’s seen plenty of changes at Vista Unified. What continues to surprise her is how good the food is. She admits that when she started over three decades ago there was a lot of canned fruit and vegetables and the hot meals, including the pizza, needed improvement.
“It is so much better now that we prepare almost everything on site the same day,” she says. She’s proud to be able to serve food to her students, knowing it really is fresh, healthy, and delicious. “I hear ‘yum’ and ‘oh yay!’ just about every day,” says Chris. “Our customers (because that’s what the students really are) have a minimum of ten different entrees to choose from, plus all the fresh fruits and vegetables they could eat.”
The pizza has come a long way, too. “The pizza is real pizza cooked at our Central Kitchen and delivered hot!” Chris says. Even the dough is custom made for WaveCrest Cafe by a local bakery.
“I have worked with some great people over the years and it has been my pleasure to serve them all,” Chris says. She’s retiring at the end of this school year and is sure to be missed by everyone at Madison. “Who knew that little job 34 years ago would end up taking care of me & mine for the rest of my life?”
Get to know your kitchen staff
Vista Unified School District is full of stories like these, and you can find them in WaveCrest Cafe. Our kitchen managers and staff are dedicated to our students and to each other. If you don’t know your WaveCrest Cafe staff get to know them here and make time to give a smile, a friendly hello, or wish them a great day.
By Lindsay Mineo