Alvara Velazco serves breakfast every morning – and lunch every day – at Beneke Elementary.
For nearly a dozen years, the Child Nutrition staff member has served food at a few campuses across Spring ISD, with the last several serving Beneke Bears.
Not long ago, a student approached her one morning and handed her a poster, and said she was thinking about her and that she made her a gift. The poster – which had a drawing of Velazco done by the student – still holds a special place in her heart.
“I asked her if it was for all of us, but she said it was just for me,” Velazco said.
It wasn’t until she took the poster home and showed it to her own children that she realized the impact the cafeteria staff can make on students.
“I don’t do much, I just treat the kids well because they are nice and they deserve it,” she said. “You don’t need to give them a lot, you just need to give them love and attention and kids will give you back a lot more.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Beneke Elementary’s Child Nutrition Area Supervisor, Maria Mendoza, who has been with Spring ISD for more than 20 years.
“I love to provide nutritious and healthy meals to the students,” Mendoza said. “Knowing that sometimes the meals we provide may be the only ones they’ll get that day makes it really, really important to us that we provide quality and healthy meals for our students.”
Last week, the Texas Department of Agriculture celebrated the National School Lunch Hero Day, which is the first Friday of every May. School cafeteria staff are tasked with preparing healthy meals for students and campus staff, adhering to nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies, and offering service with a smile to hundreds of students a day.
Over at Spring High School’s 9th Grade Center, cafeteria staff there serve more than 500 students a day as well as around 200 breakfast meals. It’s a job that is constantly changing, something Cafeteria Manager Christina Guajardo finds to be the best part.
“Some of the things I love about this job is that it’s never a dull moment,” she said. “There’s always something new happening, and we enjoy the pace of it.”
Of course, the early hours – Guajardo gets up at 4 a.m. to be at the school by 5:15 – are a bit easier because of the community and camaraderie of the cafeteria staff.
“I had to resign [a few years ago] to take care of my mother,” Guajardo said. “I had to come back and start all over again. Everybody in the district was there to help me with the changes. I really appreciate the camaraderie we have in the [Child Nutrition] department.”
Back at Beneke Elementary, Velazco is proud to be one component of a students’ day in a team effort to make all the students successful.
“We contribute to their days with the food,” Velazco said. “We can help them to get a little something to help them learn a bit better. Not because we’re teaching them, but because we’re feeding them.”
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