The Importance of the British Dinner Lady

The Importance of the British Dinner Lady

When you think of a dinner lady, the first thing that possibly comes to mind is that of the slightly rotund, abrupt woman with the glasses, hairnet, and rubber gloves who simply handed you a plate of undesirable guck that the school claimed to be “food” during your own school years

 However, in modern day reality this is simply an incorrect archetypical view of the humble dinner lady. Her roles have extended far beyond the task of shovelling out food to children. Nowadays, she not only cooks and serves in the school canteen but also works by a code that encourages children to eat wholesome and nutritious food, along with general hygiene control in the kitchens and cafeteria.

Special Assistance

Special dietary needs are more common nowadays due to its widespread awareness so there is a high likelihood there will be a number of children with such needs in schools. Dinner ladies must have the proper knowledge to ensure that suitable substitutes are available so that nourishing meals are available to everyone. Another aspect of this required knowledge is awareness of children with food allergies. Dinner ladies must ensure that these children do not eat anything that could potentially harm them.

In addition to special requirements, any child with a religious belief where certain foods are forbidden should be taken into account, e.g. Muslim children are not allowed any form of pork. It is up to parents to inform the school of their child’s food requirements, especially in the case of younger children. Also, in the event of a child having a physical disability, the supervisor may be required to assist in helping such children with their lunch trays along with cutting up their food and opening packages, but only if necessary of course.

Supervision of the Canteen and Playground

Along with supervising everything to do with food, the dinner lady must also maintain order in her canteen. They must ensure that all the students collect their lunch trays, sit at their tables, and return everything in an orderly and disciplined fashion. If anything gets out of hand, she has the authority to remove any conflict from her cafeteria. She is also in charge of hygiene in all senses of the term. She has to make sure that students wash their hands before and after eating, plus any cleaning of food and/or drink spillages.
Other tasks include maintaining order on the school grounds, ensuring that the children are playing in a safe environment. Of course, the ringing of hand bells has long been accustomed with dinner ladies.

Safety and First Aid

This is an important part of the modern dinner lady. She has ensure the canteen environment is safe for food consumption and recreation. If a child is injured whilst cutting up food or slips on food waste, the dinner lady must promptly provide first aid to the child and determine if further medical attention is required.

In conclusion, a dinner lady has to be comfortable around children on a daily basis and must have a willingness to work hard and be patient with large crowds. As you can see, there is more to the dinner lady than you would think! She is an essential part of the school team and must never be overlooked.

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