Sherri Medeiros could not feel more at home if she were in her own kitchen. Truth be told, the newly appointed Oakdale High School Lead Cafeteria Assistant may just feel more at home in the OHS kitchen than she does her own.
Medeiros was recently promoted from her long running position as cafeteria assistant to the lead role. It was a promotion that came following a district job change for former Lead Assistant Chris Flores.
“We worked really well together,” Medeiros said of her working relationship with Flores. “I was sad to see her go. But I was thankful for the opportunity she left me with.”
The 2019-2020 school year marks the 14th year for Medeiros with OHS Cafeteria. Prior to accepting a permanent position there, she spent two years as a kitchen sub with the district. During that time she spent a lot of hours at the elementary schools, as well as the high school.
“I used to actually be a rover or a roamer throughout all the schools,” she said, noting Oakdale Junior High was the only campus she never visited.
“My mom worked at the junior high for 20 years,” Medeiros noted. “She was previously retired from Mission High School out of Fremont. When we moved to Oakdale she got this job.”
Well known throughout the district as a valued employee, Nancy Iermini retired from OJUSD at the age of 78. She maintained employment with the district just long enough to overlay service with her daughter Sherri for eight of her 20 years.
“Sometimes she would actually come over and sub with me, so we got to work together,” Medeiros said.
As a previous housewife and stay at home mom to two sons, the now Lead Assistant shared she never envisioned she would follow in the footsteps of her mother as the ‘lunch lady’ at the school.
“It worked well with my children being in school,” she said of her early years of employment. “It gave me time to take them and pick them up from school. It filled my day, so that I wasn’t bored.”
She also is finding that she is settling in quite easily.
“To tell you the truth it kind of scared me at first,” she continued. “Working with young children and then coming to work with the older children, you always heard these horror stories. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice all the children have been.”
Acknowledgement of a shared respect for previous Lead Flores, Medeiros shared a story of the position opening four years ago as well and Flores’ interest in pursuing it. Then ten years into the job at OHS, Medeiros seemed the natural fit for the promotion at the time, yet the timing wasn’t right for her personally.
“This position came available four years ago and I didn’t apply for it because my parents were sick,” she shared, noting her responsibility and focus to care for her family.
In turn, she encouraged Flores to pursue the position.
Medeiros lost her father in 2014, her mother passed in 2017.
“The timing wasn’t right four years ago,” she confided. “I was ready and I trained her how to do the job and I knew I could do the job. I was purely ready to take charge, but the timing just wasn’t the right time.”
This time around however, with both sons now grown and a husband supportive of her choices, the timing could not have been more perfect.
“I enjoy it,” she said of pursuing the lead position. “I know the job. I enjoy working with the children. I know the food and all the recipes, and I feel that I’m good at it.”
In the Lead role, Medeiros now oversees a staff of five employees and seven student employees. She’s also responsible for ordering supplies, managing staff, daily operations and proper balance of the registers. On any given day a total of approximately 400 students pass through the cafeteria during the brunch and lunch periods.
One major change since first joining the permanent staff 14 years ago is the fresh food now served from the kitchen. A change which Medeiros shared has taken some adjustment for some, but she’s in favor of all the same. The majority of the food served is cooked daily in the kitchen.
“There’s a guideline,” she said of the food offered to the students.
While healthy alternatives are now more the norm, the menu still holds room for the occasional French fry treat.
“What I love most is interacting with the kids and seeing them grow,” she said of the part time job, which has morphed into a career. “It was really fun for me seeing them start out as an elementary student and seeing them grow into the human beings that they are and how neat they turn out.”