Interview with Josephine Centola! The “Lunch Lady” At FDR!


Abdullah Hashimi and Li Na Jiang

The New Dealer is grateful to have a lovely interview with Josephine Centola, one of FDR’s very own “lunch ladies.” Ms. Centola is one of the many people working at FDR behind the scenes, who does not get the recognition they deserve. Our goal for this interview is to uplift this side of FDR, the side that does so much work every day- but isn’t recognized enough. Ms. Centola is such a positive light in the FDR community, and we here at The New Dealer are glad to have spoken to her.

The New Dealer: Most Students when talking about the people working in the cafeteria refer to them as, “Lunch Ladies.” Is that something you are comfortable with? Are there any other names or titles that you would prefer to be referred as? 

Josephine: Lunch Lady is fine, I love what I do. Being called a lunch lady is no problem to me.

The New Dealer: That is great to hear! I am glad that you love what you do and that being called a “lunch lady” isn’t something that bothers you, since it is used so much to refer to all those who work in the cafeteria. Our next question for you is, did you choose to be a lunch lady, or was there a certain sequence of events that led you to this career?

Josephine: I came to this country when I was 16. Eventually, I got married and had children, and then I applied for this job once my children were old enough. I love this job, because I love to cook, and I love the kids.

The New Dealer: What are some of your responsibilities, or some of the things you do here at FDR?

Josephine: I do everything in the kitchen. Everything from cooking breakfast, lunch, preparing sandwiches, cleaning the kitchen tools, and even serving the food if I have to. We do everything, all of us who work behind the counter, and we do it with our hearts.

The New Dealer: We are sure that we can speak for most of the students out there, we are very grateful for all the work you all do behind that counter in the cafeteria. This next question goes back to what you said before about loving your job. How much do you enjoy working specifically here at FDR? And how has working at FDR influenced you?

Josephine: I love it! I love working here and I wouldn’t do anything else! I’ve always been the same person, working at FDR hasn’t changed me, I still feel the same way about working here now, that I felt my first day here.

The New Dealer: How long have you been working here?

Josephine: I have been working here since 2005

The New Dealer: What is something you do, or something in general that everyone in the kitchen does, which students don’t really know about?

Josephine: Of course, the kids don’t really know all about what we do. They see that the food is ready, and they don’t know what goes into it. All the work is behind a wall. We start very early in the morning, we start with breakfast, prep lunch, and all the food for the day. We make everything fresh. All the food for every period is made before that period, so it’s all fresh. We don’t stop all day long,  It is hard work. We don’t serve any food we wouldn’t eat.

The New Dealer: That’s part of the reason we are doing this interview, to shed some light on all that everyone does behind the scenes. Regarding the food that you cook, is there anything you would change about it? 

Josephine: There are foods we are required to make, the DOE has set menus. We like most of the food made but, of course, I would change a few things. I would like kids to have more options and more fresh and healthy options.

The New Dealer: Have you had any other job before your life here at FDR?

Josephine: When I came to this country, I worked at a factory making dresses. Then, I worked at home for five years using a sewing machine. Finally, I raised my kids and one of my granddaughters. After all that, I started working here. But, I have been cooking since I was ten years old, and I’ve always enjoyed it.

The New Dealer: There definitely was a lot of hard work that you have put into all of this. I’m glad that you’ve always had a passion for cooking.

Josephine: It is hard to do any job if you do not have a passion for it. It goes for everything, you need that passion and dedication. 

The New Dealer: Is there any favorite meal you have that you cook either here at FDR or at home?

Josephine: I cook everything. I’m Italian, so I do cook a lot of Italian food, but I do cook everything. I like to cook Chinese food, French food, everything. I cannot choose a favorite meal to cook, I just love it all. 

The New Dealer: This is your last year at FDR before you retire, how do you feel about retiring? 

Josephine: I don’t know. I want to retire because of my age, and I want to enjoy the grandkids. But, I’m gonna miss it. I love to work and love my job. 

We want to thank Josephine for agreeing to take part in this interview with The New Dealer. It sheds light on all the responsibilities of the people behind the scene in the cafeteria here at FDR. I hope this interview brought some appreciation to your hearts, due to all the amazing work the staff  in the cafeteria does very day at FDR!