Author Archives: Ashley Vancil-Leap



Now that 55 million U.S. children are back in school, parents, teachers and school administration have been gearing up for the rest of school year ahead. However, one group of individuals who are often overlooked in our cultural imaginations of schools are the lunch ladies (also referred to as school food service employees). More importantly, this group of workers are poorly misunderstood and are often not considered at all. Not only are lunch ladies invisible in academic research, but they are invisible in our national conversation about the quality of school food.

It is important to draw our attention to the work of food service employees so that we may have a better understanding of how they impact children’s health. Although overlooked in considerations of children’s health, lunch ladies do have an impact on children’s lives each day.

When we do see portrayals of lunch ladies in popular culture, they are often portrayed as one-dimensional. This undermines our ability to consider lunch ladies as partners in improving children’s school meals. Based on a media content analysis, I have found that lunch ladies are more often than not portrayed as villains. Read More