A pleasure to serve

Students bring joy to lunch lady’s life


Maryssa Rodriguez

Cafeteria manager Lisa Martinez stands behind lunch line.

The kitchen is bustling with activity. The smell of baking bread wafts in the air, drawing in the hundreds of impatient students in line waiting to be served the food prepared for them. One woman has the responsibility of keeping the chaos at bay, but for her, it’s just another day on the job.

Lisa Martinez began working at Canyon in 2005 and has managed cafeterias for five years. Martinez works nine hours a day to feed students and teachers. The job not only includes making food, but also ordering the ingredients, doing paperwork and ensuring the rest of the team is in their positions, ready to serve.

I’m blessed I have a job, because there are lot of people that don’t have jobs.”

— Lisa Martinez

“When I came in here, I just came in as a worker,” Martinez said. “I was just blessed moving to Java City, which I did for three or four years. They pushed me to be cafeteria manager, but I’ve enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong; I do like my job.”

Martinez said God has inspired her, and she feels blessed because of the job she has and feels good doing that job.

“My relationship with God–I have a strong relationship with him,” Martinez said. “I’m blessed I have a job, because there are lot of people that don’t have jobs. Then my co-workers, they make me feel very welcome and very special. My ladies have a lot to do with that as well.”

According to Martinez, students along with teachers bring joy to her life. She said many teenagers who come through the line to get their food make her day.

“All of the ladies are respectful, along with the teachers,” Martinez said. “Some of the teachers we don’t know, but the ones that come through our line are amazing people. The students make our day. Even though they say we make their day because that’s what we’re supposed to be here for, they make our day as well.”

Throughout her career, Martinez has many experiences with students who have gone out of their way to make her feel special. She said these students would often make her day as well as making her smile.

Everybody has their opinion, and we don’t take it personally because it’s not our decision of what we make.”

— Lisa Martinez

“When I was in Java City, a student came and put a poster on Java City and said, ‘Lisa, you make our day by making a coffee,’” Martinez said. “That was really sweet, and that made my day. Then there was another student, and she would always come through the line saying, ‘You’re my favorite lunch lady.’ Those were days where she would always make me smile. There’s a bunch of kids that have been special.”

School cafeteria workers are unable to choose the food they serve and what goes into them. Martinez said they know students don’t always enjoy the food they serve, but she said she believes everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

“I guess it’s because we can’t add salt to our food, so that has a lot to do with it,” Martinez said. “We eat the food here–to us, it’s good. We like the food. Everybody has their opinion, and we don’t take it personally because it’s not our decision of what we make. It comes from the company we work for.”

Martinez said she is proud to work in a position that rises above stereotypes.

“In the beginning I was embarrassed to say that I was a cafeteria lady,” Martinez said. “I didn’t want to say what I did. But now, I’m not embarrassed and proud of the job I do, because I realized that there was no reason to feel embarrassed about what I did.”