Royals Cafeteria Lunch Q & A

Mr. Richardson, Food Service Director, helps prepare and helps serve lunch


Photo by Jessica Sui

Mr. Richardson reviews a production record sheet with a cafeteria emplyee, Lori Agresta prior to lunch

Lunch is an important part of most every school day. Students, faculty and staff depend on the food service director, Mr. Jeff Richardson and his staff to serve delicious, nutritious meals every day. We asked Mr. Richardson for his perspective on how the cafeteria runs and issues that have affected what lunches are served.

Q. What is it like running the cafeteria?

A. It’s wonderful! Being the Food Service Director of the Roncalli Café is challenging, but the most rewarding position I have ever held.

Q. How do you decide what lunches to serve each day?

A. The main entrees are based on staffing, availability of the products and how many employees we have on duty any given day. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the most labor intensive, so we schedule more employees on those school days to cook and serve Asian Bar, Breakfast Bar, Chicken & Noodles, etc.

Q. Why is Papa John’s Pizza not going to be served anymore?

A. A lot of thought and prayer went into the decision to terminate our relationship with Papa John’s. First and foremost was a price increase that Papa John’s was scheduled to impose on us at the beginning of the second semester. That price increase would have required the Cafe to raise the per slice price for the second time this school year and I was just not in favor of passing that price increase onto the students and parents again. The quality of the pizzas and the way they were sliced were also a huge issue. What you have to remember is that Papa John’s was making about 260 in a very short time and the lunch servers were having to serve two slices for one when the pizzas were not cut correctly or when the dough bubbles were so large, some slices didn’t have enough cheese or sauce to meet the school lunch requirements. When this happens, we would either run short on pizzas or lose money. It also slowed service down, causing longer lines than normal. In addition, our cafe staff works extremely hard to manage a clean and sanitary kitchen, and when we have an outside vendor coming into the school, we have no control over their employees and the sanitary requirements that the Health Department requires us to maintain. Believe me, I know there may be some frustration over the loss of Papa John’s on Wednesdays, but we will do everything we can to serve a lunch that the students and staff will enjoy.

Q. What is going to replace Papa John’s Pizza?

A.We plan on serving a lunch that everyone will enjoy. Crispitos have outgrown the small Shake Room or Ala Carte room, so we will rotate those on Wednesdays with other popular items, such as Buffalo Chicken Pizza, Chicken & Waffles and Four Meat Pizzas based on availability.

Q. What is the students’ most popular lunch?

A. The most popular lunches are 1) Asian Bar, 2) Breakfast Bar and 3) Chicken Nuggets & Nacho Bar

Q. What made you want to work in the RHS cafeteria?

A. I was the Food Service Director at Nativity for six years prior to the position becoming available at Roncalli. I had always heard great things about the kitchen staff at Roncalli and the commitment made by all of the faculty and staff to ensure the success of each and every student. I was pretty content at Nativity at the time, but the challenge of serving 1,100 students/staff per day versus 400 was just too good to pass up.

Q. What makes a good cafeteria worker?

A. Working for the Roncalli Cafe is extremely physical as most of our staff are on their feet for 4 to 8 hours. There are a lot of moving parts for our staff to serve 1,100 students and staff each school day. There is no other food service business that serves more people in a shorter period of time other than schools and hospitals. To do this, an employee must be dedicated, dependable, flexible and committed to the task of serving the highest quality of food we are allowed. A majority of our staff has some connection to Roncalli, whether they have students here now or in the past or may have been students in the past themselves. I wouldn’t be anything without the great support staff I’m surrounded by.