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Assistant manager sees to it no child left behind in Miramar cafeteria
No one understands how much students need full tummies to focus on work quite like Lily Stevenson.
The mother of two feeds about 1,400 children each school day as assistant manager of Glades Middle School's cafeteria in Miramar.
Each morning, Stevenson, of Pembroke Pines, arrives 30 minutes before her 8 a.m. shift to start the massive task of ordering food and preparing meals. In between, she fields phone calls from parents driving to work when they remember their child forgot their lunch money. She earned about $15,350 last year.
Stevenson, 43, moved to South Florida six years ago from Arizona and thought the job would be perfect because it combined her two loves: cooking and children.
"I thought, 'I'll get a little job. Serve up a little hash. Do something easy. I'll get in the cafeteria,'" she recalls with a chuckle between lunch shifts. "I think in that first week I started crying. I was overwhelmed. I had no idea how much work went into this."
Lunch starts at 11:30 a.m., and for the next 2 1/2 hours, hundreds of students walk past Stevenson and the other 10 women who work in the cafeteria. During the rush, crew members prepare tomorrow's meal while checking food temperatures and signing for deliveries.
Then there are the students. The cafeteria crew coax children to eat their vegetables, look up forgotten student identification numbers for those who prepaid for meals and feed those with no money.
"Sometimes the kids are very honest," Stevenson said. "One little boy came in and said, 'I don't have money for lunch.'"
But no child goes hungry. Those who can't afford the $2.25 lunch and don't receive free or reduced-price meals still eat.
"I'm a mom first and foremost," she said. "We have to feed children. Period."
Akilah Johnson can be reached at akjohnson@SunSentinel. com or 954-356-4527.