Faces of CISD: Lillian Cruz


Camden Southwick

Coppell High School cafeteria manager Lillian Cruz leads a team of more than a dozen cafeteria workers every day. When in food preparation, Cruz prepares enough meals for close to half of the school.

Pramika Kadari, Executive News & Enterprise Editor

Faces of CISD is a Sidekick series in which executive news/enterprise editor Pramika Kadari profiles an influential member of Coppell ISD to commemorate the district’s 60-year anniversary.

From cooking, scheduling employees’ shifts and serving food to customer service, Coppell High School cafeteria manager Lillian Cruz’s days are spent fulfilling students’ culinary needs. Being part of CISD for more than a decade, Cruz has seen the districts’ cafeterias change and grow. 

How long have you been in the district and what positions have you worked?

I started [at CHS] 14 years ago as the assistant manager for two years. Then I worked over at Coppell Middle School East for four years, and I’ve been back at the high school for seven or eight years. I had experience in cafeteria management before from California. I was an elementary manager for seven years. 

What have been the differences of working in California vs. Coppell?

The food is different. I came from the south Los Angeles area, and the population was basically poverty level. So around 96% of the students were getting free meals. Here, it’s different. 

How have the cafeteria and the food options changed since you have been in the district?

A lot. When I was first started as the assistant manager, we only made like 10 salads a day. Now we’re making 60-70 salads every day. The way the students eat changes every year, as well, depending on the group that comes in. Every group has different taste buds and different tastes. That’s why we have all these stations to give them different options. We have many more options than before. 

What food items are popular this year?

This year, crispitos are a popular item. Breakfast for lunch [and] the Mexican build-your-own burrito bowls, too. 

What is your favorite part of being cafeteria manager?

My favorite part is knowing I’m playing a big role in the students’ lives, even though I’m not a teacher. I love kids, so I know I’m putting a little bit of that into use. Being part of their lives, seeing how they develop throughout high school – the changes, they amaze me. 

What are some of the challenges of the job?

I’m pretty good at multitasking, and since I enjoy what I do, I don’t think anything is too much of a challenge for me. I know what I’m doing now, with so many years of experience. When I’m shorthanded, that’s a challenge, trying to be in two places at the same time. Sometimes there are three people who call in sick, and we can’t get much help. And when we get people from the agencies, I have to train them while still doing my job, so that’s hard.