The Role of a Cafeteria Aide in Elementary School

Cafeteria twitter

Before considering a career in this field, there are numerous job responsibilities that you need to be conversant with. If anything, you must understand the job description to determine whether or not the job is suitable for you. Other than providing general support in a school cafeteria, here are some of the primary duties of a cafeteria aide in an elementary school.

Prep Work

Prep work is the daily responsibility of cafeteria aides. It involves getting the entire kitchen ready to prepare and serve the food. For example, you take out food to defrost, cut vegetables and set out the cartons of milk. In some cases, you also take part in serving the food.


School cafeterias require high standards of hygiene. As a cafeteria aide, you’ll be put in charge of several clean-up areas. You may need to wash behind the serving counter, clean the kitchen, stay on top of the dirty dishes, and wipe down the trays and cafeteria tables after every meal. Sometimes, you might also be required to mop the floor of the school cafeteria.

Cash Register

In most school cafeterias, cash register areas are put at the end of each lunch line. Schools that provide lunch for their students at a price usually employ cafeteria aides that perform one of two principal duties: strictly serving at the counter, and combining food preparation while serving at the counter. The school may require you to run the register and collect lunch money on behalf of the teacher on cafeteria duty. If the meals are already prepaid, the school should have a program where you can track individual meals by typing either the student’s PIN number or name into the register.

Student Supervision

Since it has recently become quite costly to assign classroom teachers to lunchroom supervision, you may be required to take part in student supervision. Research reveals that teachers cannot patrol during their own lunch breaks, because they require most of it to go through student papers and plan lessons. Student supervision simply involves standing by to monitor activity at the cafeteria counters, and being on the lookout for where the students stack their trays and dispose of any trash. The main purpose of lunchroom supervision is to make sure that the students have everything they need.

Monitoring Behavioral Tendencies

As a cafeteria aide, you will also act as a useful insight in monitoring behavioral tendencies among students. In some elementary schools, cafeteria aides are allowed to supervise both recess and lunches. Any barriers to children’s learning are often revealed during recess and at lunch tables. You may be required to interact with the students on behalf of the teachers and provide any useful feedback. The feedback collected is then analyzed by teachers to generate personal and behavioral insights that could help them in instructing and guiding their students. For example, immigrant children may reveal the need for an English tutor after school. Likewise, lunchroom chatter may give hints about any form of parental neglect.

The main mission for a cafeteria aide in an elementary school should include providing service that nurtures children’s healthy growth. If you have a big heart and enjoy giving back to the community, then a career in cafeteria aide is suitable for you.