Chris Flores isn’t one for public notoriety or acknowledgement. Now in her 14th year with Oakdale Joint Unified School District, Flores is the first to share she simply comes to work and does her job.
The job which she shows up to do is that of Oakdale High School, Lead Cafeteria assistant. It’s a responsibility that begins at 5:30 a.m. each day and concludes at 2 p.m.
“In my eyes I just come to work and do my job,” Flores stated frankly. “I just do what I’m supposed to do. The fact that they think I go above and beyond … to me, I don’t. I just do me. I just do my job.”
Yet a job well done, in the eyes of the school administration that recently nominated Flores for the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) Employees Making a Difference award. Flores was acknowledged recently by SCOE as the overall winner for Child Nutrition. She was selected along with five other category winners, from a group of 40 nominees.
The Employees Making a Difference Award is noted as a program which honors Classified/Confidential employees for outstanding service.
“Chris was nominated because she’s outstanding,” OHS Vice-Principal Shannon Kettering stated, noting that both she and fellow VP Joni McGinnis each submitted nomination letters for Flores to SCOE.
Flores, however, sees it as a team effort, noting her adult staff of five and nine student workers as the integral part of what is achieved in the school cafeteria each day.
“This is a team job,” she said. “If it wasn’t for each one of these ladies ... I couldn’t do what we do alone. It’s not a one man tribe. This is a team, we’re a team.”
Yet amidst the discomfort with the acknowledgement, Flores is both appreciative and grateful for the nomination, as well as being chosen.
At the end of the day, however, she is honest about her role as campus “lunch lady” and both the stigma as well as the joy she takes away from the position.
“I think we’re just as important as the people in the office,” Flores said of her team and their dedication to the students. “If it wasn’t for us … There are a lot of kids in the district as a whole that this is the best meal they get. It’s important.”
Flores shared much has changed from what many may recall of school cafeteria food. She estimates 95 percent of the food which is served to the students each day is made by the staff onsite.
At the end of the day, that’s what matters most to Flores – the students.
“Caring for the kids, that’s what we’re here for,” she said. “We’re here for the kids. I love seeing these kids succeed.”