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The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

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Cooking for the Cowboys

Cafeteria manager, Gena Honza goes through a run down of supplies in the CHS school store.
Cafeteria manager, Gena Honza goes through a run down of supplies in the CHS school store.

By Dyer Whitt
Staff Writer

Cafeteria manager, Gena Honza goes through a run down of supplies in the CHS school store. Photo by Jack Ficklen.

Every day at CHS over 1,800 students bring their rumbling stomachs to the cafeteria, or “commons,” during lunch for a bite to eat. Behind the madness, the cafeteria employees work hard to serve adequate lunches to a plethora of hungry students.

To accommodate the mass amount of students coming through the cafeteria, the commons is equipped with three lunch lines serving traditional cafeteria food and also a multitude of carts or kiosks including CiCi’s pizza, Chick-Fil-A, and deli style sandwiches.

On top of that, the CHS cafeteria also has its own store where students can buy candy, snacks, drinks and a variety of other foods. This high school cafeteria is quite comparable to a full-fledged mall food court.

As an incoming freshman, Reid Buckley was in awe as he walked into the cafeteria on the first day of school.

In middle school Chick-Fil-A Friday was something I looked forward to every week,” Buckley said. “I used to hate the cafeteria food so much, but now I have so many different foods to choose from and Chick-Fil-A almost everyday.”

Moving to Coppell this summer from Houston, senior Nick Gilbert describes his first encounter with the CHS cafeteria.

“It was nothing like my old school that had the same lousy food everyday. Their food is so good and I really like all the different varieties,” Gilbert said.

The efficiency and modern feel of the lunchroom at CHS can be attributed to the hard working people behind the scenes who prepare the food students eat everyday. Their effort, sometimes overlooked by hungry and preoccupied students, definitely does not go unnoticed for long.

Cafeteria manager Gena Honza is all too familiar with the hectic lunch period at CHS. After getting her start in the school food industry at Lakeside Elementary, Honza gained her certification in management and decided to tackle the tough task of overseeing all the cafeteria operations at CHS, where she has been for nine years.

Honza arrives at school at 6:30 a.m. everyday; her first task is breakfast preparation. Along with her colleagues, the team quickly whips up a hot breakfast for the early bird students aching for their first meal to help fuel them through the day. In addition to a hot breakfast, the crew makes sure other breakfast foods are stocked throughout the store and that the coffee and hot chocolate is brewed.

“After breakfast we start to begin prepping for lunch. This includes anything from cooking the day’s lunch to restocking various items throughout the cafeteria,” Honza said.

With the lunch period only a mere three hours after breakfast, the cafeteria employees really have to grind in order to make it in time.

“The ladies work really hard before lunch to get everything ready for the students,” Honza said. “After they’re done, they get about a 20 minute break to grab a bite to eat, but after that it’s right back to work as the kids pour through the lines.”

During the lunch period, the cafeteria becomes packed as waves of students appear in search of a bite to eat. Although the menu on a weekly basis stays the same, Honza and her team are always coming up with different ways to present their food.

The behind the scenes creativity is a familiar occurrence to Honza who says she enjoys coming up with different ways to implement a product into her cuisine.

“Like most school cafeterias, we are on a government program,” Honza said. “They give us so many pounds or portions of food and we have to come up with a way to put it into our menu.”

The price for the standard cafeteria tray lunch is $3.00. For students who are hungry for favorites like pizza, they can find a slice for $1.75 each.  While prices are not too steep, some students express their opinions on snack and junk foods that they feel are over priced.

“$2.50 for a bag of candy really depletes my account fast. I get one almost everyday and when I go to the grocery or Wal-Mart and see the same item for half the price it really makes me mad,” said Buckley.

Being controlled by government laws and regulations, Honza is often subject to criticism by students who feel as if they need to give their opinion on prices or food in general.

“I really don’t take it personal when people criticize things like price, portion or if we don’t have enough of something,” Honza said. “There’s no way students can understand what we have to go through; the regulations and guidelines are extremely strict.”

At the end of the day, a little “thank you” here and there goes a long way. Although it is a job, the ladies that cook and serve food everyday do their deed with a passion and hope that the student body can feel appreciative towards their work.

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