Wayzata students help alleviate shortage of cafeteria workers

Students who work in the cafeteria are paid nearly $17 an hour and earn credit towards their degree.

PLYMOUTH, Minnesota — Almost every industry is feeling the impact of a labor shortage. For schools, it has affected everything from public transit to feeding children.

At Wayzata High School in Plymouth, their cafeteria was operating with half staff at the start of the school year.

“It was a huge struggle,” said Heather Van Krevelen, deli supervisor for Wayzata Cafés.

According to Van Krevelen, they typically have 30 employees to feed between 2,500 and 2,800 students each day.

“We’ve had such shortages where our student support teams – meaning our counselors, deans, vice principals and social workers – were actually helping serve lunch,” the principal said. partner Tyler Shepard.

Last year, Wayzata High School set up a work experience partnership where students could work while earning credits and money. They wondered if they could offer the same opportunity through Wayzata Cafés.

“I was a little worried at first that the students wouldn’t want to be seen in this role with their peers, but they signed up and I think they found it really rewarding,” Shepard said.

Van Krevelen said that while they were still only half of the regular staff, with 12 to 15 employees, they now had 15 students also working in the cafeteria, bringing them back to their normal number.

“It really helped fill a void for our staffing,” she said.

“It’s probably one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve had, mainly because I get to interact with all the lunch ladies,” said Rithvik Saladi, a senior at Wayzata High School.

Saladi has been working at Wayzata Cafés for two months.

Students are paid nearly $17 an hour and credited toward their degree for every 70 hours worked.

“The first week was a bit awkward for me, but I got to know them and that’s good. I can sometimes say hello to them in the hallways when I have lunch,” Saladi said.

Junior Onyinye Anikeh comes to the cafeteria between classes to work 80 minutes, five days a week.

“It gives me good work experience and I can also stay in school while doing this. My parents are more comfortable with me getting a job in school than outside of it. school,” Anikeh said.

On Wednesday morning, Anikeh was in the kitchen preparing rice for lunch.

“It makes you appreciate the effort they put into it,” she said.

Shepard said he asked a few students to ask him for work for the next school year. Shifts currently cover early morning until lunch, but the school hopes to expand the program in the fall so students can also help with cleaning.

“I didn’t think I was going to like it that much, but it’s pretty nice,” Saladi said. “I love her so much.”

Know of a local business we should feature for our Behind the Business segment? Email Heidi Wigdahl at hwigdahl@kare11.com.

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