Dolly Long has been in Lewiston college kitchens for more than forty years. She tears up a little, wondering she simplest has a month left. “I’ve simply loved the complete time,” said Long, 69. “I don’t suppose there’s an afternoon that I ever stated, ‘I don’t need to visit paintings.’ I’m going to miss my entire college. I’m going to overlook my personnel. I’m going to overlook all of it. However, it’s time.” Long commenced as an alternative in the Lewiston High School kitchen when her daughter became drawing close to kindergarten age. It changed into a super activity for a working mother, with hours that lined up with college and summers off.
About 18 months later, in 1980, she was hired as a full-time cook at Pettingill Elementary School. A year after that, Farwell Elementary School had a gap for a kitchen manager. Long has been there ever seeing that. “I’ve constantly cherished youngsters, and that’s a big pull on this vicinity children are our enterprise,” Long stated. “No kids, no business.” She orders meals, keeps kitchen shelves and coolers tightly organized, facilitates the kitchen team of workers once they want a hand, and sits at the sign-in to test kids out during meals.
She has found out lots of names over the years. “If I go grocery buying, or (I’m) out and approximately, it without a doubt makes me glad after they understand me, I recognize them after which we’ve got communication,” Long said. “I’ve got a alternative coming in next week, and she used to come here. She says, ‘You had been my lunch lady.’ I stated, ‘Did you have got dirty blond hair?’ She says, ‘Yes, I did.’”
She remembered the woman as a bit lady. These days, Long and her team of workers feed about 240 college students for breakfast and approximately 360 for lunch. Kids call her “Miss Dolly.” Over Long’s career, students have usually cherished tater tots, smiley face fries, chook nuggets, and pizza, even though how some of the one’s matters are made has been modified.
Popcorn bird served Thursday had whole-grain breading. Pizza used, first of all, dough they rolled out via hand; however, that changed into hard on the shoulders. Now, it’s far frozen, right-length shells. “We’ve virtually long past healthier,” Long stated. “More fruits and veggies.” Long is satisfied extra packages now provide college students access to loose breakfast and lunch, in addition to culmination and greens.
“Many kids would likely pass hungry rather,” she stated. “I’ve seen that and tried to help out anyplace needed. It’s been very (emotional) when you see children, and you know there’s nothing there (at home). It’s miserable.” She used to sit on the Maine School Food Service Association board, which opened the door for touring and finding new cooking thoughts and recipes.
Long said Jeanne Hood, the now-retired school nutrition director, become her career mentor. “She turned into a totally huge encouragement for all my days,” Long said. When she told Hood she might be retiring; Hood applauded the news. Long would now have greater time to come out for lunch. Long stated she would be able to omit college occasions, including the yearly Pumpkin Festival and being part of the faculty community.
Long stated she does now not have particular plans for her retirement. She will probably keep getting up at 3 a.M. However, she says she will have greater time for analyzing, taking walks, laughing things together with her husband of 52 years, Norm, and spending time together with her 19-month-old top notch-grandson, Brady.