ISSUE 4: Culinary Students Help Out Cafeteria Staff

Cafeteria staff gets a couple of extra hands from Culinary students.

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Mariah (’24)(front) and Giselle (’23)(back) seen helping out the cafeteria staff by crafting some lunches for the student body.

Allie Barton, Social Media Editor

Throughout the 2021-22 school year, Robinson has felt the blow of being understaffed, especially in the cafeteria. Our current staff includes the new Student Nutrition Manager, Michelle Armstrong, and the three student nutrition employees, Samantha Heflin, Ileida Rodriguez and Hattie Rowe.

There have been some new obstacles this school year that we have never seen before at this level. Food sourcing and packaging supplies have been difficult to come by, with shortages and outages caused by local manufacturing concerns and worldwide import issues, a lack of truck drivers to transport and rising fuel prices, all of which have raised the cost of everything.

Recruitment and hiring have been a struggle across the Hillsborough County District, impacting Robinson more than most schools in the county. With our school only having three student nutrition employees diligently hanging in there and serving the students daily, help is needed at this point. Armstrong reached out to Chef Mitch Smithey, who runs the culinary program at Robinson, to see if there was a way to allow the culinary students to gain kitchen experience while helping the kitchen staff feed our student body. Smithey agreed and since then the students have been a considerable help daily. 

“It would be impossible for us to sustain feeding all of the students we serve daily without the help of these student volunteers. I am extremely proud of the work they are doing and their professional behavior in the kitchen, it has been an honor and a pleasure to work alongside them and I am truly grateful for their help!” Armstrong said on Smithey’s students.

With staffing at impossible lows, it was necessary to look for alternative options and recruit from within. The Access Point Students are involved in a community-based vocational training program, and they saw the need in the kitchen/cafeteria and volunteered to help. They have been doing a fantastic job in the mornings, ensuring the supply of cookies remains constant! Currently, they have four student nutritionist positions open for anyone 18 and up. For more information, you can go to the Hillsborough district website, go to Employment/Vacancies or you can email Armstrong at [email protected]