Emeline Garcia

Emeline Garcia soaks up information like a sponge at Salida schools.

Why Selected?

Billy Reid, child nutrition services director, says: Emeline was hired as a two-hour cafeteria helper. She quickly showed us she wanted to work more than two hours a day. Emeline quickly became my go-to extra-duty person. Before and after her shift she worked in the central kitchen, where she soaked up info like a sponge. She wanted to be trained to drive a truck and deliver and she wanted to learn the computer, all of which she accomplished with no problems. 


Cafeteria Assistant, Salida Union School District, Salida, Calif.
Age: 27
Education: High school graduate
Years at organization: 1

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Being recognized by my boss for this award. It’s an honor and a humbling experience because I never thought I’d be recognized for all the effort that I put into my work. 

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

I’m a very fast-paced worker and a quick study. I’ve learned a lot from my colleagues. 

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

Always strive to try your best each and every day. Set goals for myself to constantly improve in the workforce. 

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Learning all the new components for school lunches. It was pretty challenging at first, but I’m proud that I’ve put that all together and I’m making a difference in making healthy school lunches. 

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

I don’t get to see the kids that much because I work in the kitchen where we distribute meals from. When I get the chance to go to the schools and the kids ask me what we’re having for lunch, I love the feeling of them enjoying the food we are cooking. 

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I’d like to continue to learn and grow. With school lunch being such a hot topic right now I feel really fortunate to be in a position to have a direct impact with the kids. 

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

I haven’t had a really big disaster, but close to it. We had chicken nuggets on the menu one day and right before we needed to leave for delivery, I noticed that there weren’t any chicken nuggets in the hot carts; they were all still in the oven. There was only 15 minutes before we needed to leave so we didn’t have time to start a new batch if they were burned. Thankfully the nuggets weren’t too crispy. 

Under 30

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

Ideas and Innovation
elderly old hands

A family’s request for at-home meal support for a patient at Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Fla., led System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Larry Altier to uncover a gap in care. He saw that only 1% of patients had been coded (diagnosed and labeled for billing purposes) as malnourished, while more than 60% of all Lee Memorial patients are over 65 years or older, a population that experiences the issue at a higher rate.

His discovery helped more rigorously identify malnutrition, but it also strengthened Lee Memorial’s community connection. The hospital launched a delivery...

Ideas and Innovation
nutrition facts label

Despite operators’ attempts to communicate nutrition information to guests via cards and labels on the food line, many guests still feel they have no clue what’s in their food. University of Illinois food economist Brenna Ellison shares a few guesses as to why consumers ignore these signs following a recent study on their placement in dining halls.

Q: Who is most likely to read the cards?

A: Students who were already exhibiting more healthy behaviors. So those were the students who track their intake using an app or a food diary. After the first week, we found the rates of people...

Managing Your Business
studient orientation

When an alma mater and an employer are one in the same, it can be a win-win for both the employee and the school. Here’s how two students’ experiences with campus dining—one positive and the other negative—led them on a path to their current jobs.

A Feast to Remember

NC State University’s main campus in Raleigh, N.C. was built on farmland given to the state by Richard Stanhope Pullen; every spring, students gather to celebrate those agricultural roots through Farm Feast, an outdoor celebration with food and music. Design major Christin King remembers her first Farm Feast vividly: “...

FSD Resources