Interviewee: Evelyn Edwards

Interviewer: Jeffrey Boyce

Date: June 27, 2016

Location: St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Description: Evelyn Edwards is a school cook in the Virgin Islands.

Jeffrey Boyce: I’m Jeffrey Boyce and it is June 27, 2016. I’m here on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, with Evelyn Edwards.

Evelyn Edwards: Nice to meet you sir.

JB: Nice to meet you. Welcome Evelyn and thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Could we begin today by you telling me a little bit about yourself, where you were born and where you grew up?

EE: I am from the island of Montserrat, the Caribbean, where the volcano have devastated in ’95, and I’m living here in St. Thomas since – I was here since in the ‘80s and I went back and I worked for Marriott, so I went to Boston to work for Marriott’s, from here to there. And as my mother took sick I came home so I’m here working for the government.

JB: So how did you get involved in child nutrition?

EE: Well they was hiring people and you have to make applications. So I filled out application and I had to wait a long time, ‘til I went to the States and came back 2004, and 2005 I get hired.

JB: Oh, OK, so you’ve been doing it about eleven years.

EE: Yes, about that.

JB: And what’s your position?

EE: I do cooking in the kitchen.

JB: OK. Has there been a mentor or someone along the way who kind of helped you get established in your career?

EE: Yes, we get help during we started, and then after we get prolong into it and know what you’re doing and what you’re about, especially with children, and them, they don’t want this, they don’t eat this, you give them the best, you try to make it highly seasoned and nice tasting. They still ignore it. But we all work together. It’s a long way to work from six to two. You have breakfast to take care of, and you have lunch, and you see that the children eat and have good behavior.

JB: What are some of the kids’ favorite menu items?

EE: They like chicken. They like hamburgers. But the chicken, they go crazy, and pizza – OOH! When you have pizza you have the whole school.

JB: What’s the participation rate? Is it like a half or three-fourths of the people come to the cafeteria?

EE: A lot. A lot of the kids come to the cafeteria. A lot.

JB: What are some of the biggest challenges in your job? Are there any difficulties?

EE: No. I do everything. I try to do everything. Everything I get done, and we get it in time for 11:30 to start on the line for the children, because we open the doors at 11:30. They’ll be standing waiting to come in, so we just rip and go.

JB: Do you all participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program?

EE: Yea, but we hardly get fresh fruits. Almost every day we open canned foods, canned fruits, apples, pears, applesauce, whatever. Sometime we do get apples, oranges, but not to say like grapes and bananas and – no, we don’t those things.

JB: What’s your favorite thing to prepare?

EE: Chicken, and casserole, I love to do the casserole.

JB: What kind of casseroles do you make?

EE: Beef or turkey we does.

JB: Is that like a meat and noodle casserole?

EE: Yes it is. You have the meat to [render], and you prepare the meat first, and you cook the pasta by itself and then you add it. Tastes very tasty with a lot of season.

JB: The children like that?

EE: Oh yes, they love that. They do love that.

JB: Do you have any memorable stories about special children you’ve served or people you’ve worked with over the years?

EE: No. Everybody and us get on very well. We don’t have any complain to do.

JB: Oh, well that’s nice. That’s unusual. What advice would you give someone who was thinking about trying to get a job in child nutrition?

EE: I would advise them to come and try it and see what it’s all about. I can’t tell them to come and do that. They will have to start from scratch to know what they coming about and what they prepared to do for them, you know, so.

JB: What qualities would they need to be successful?

EE: High quality. High quality preparing things. Love the children. That’s the first priority. You must always be kind and nice to them and see that everything goes well.

JB: Anything else you’d like to add today?

EE: Well, I love my job. I love it dearly. I always here before everybody at morning time. I start to prepare what is there to prepare for breakfast. And then we head into lunch, and everybody works together. We have a good team, and our supervisor is PERFECT. She’s the best.

JB: Can’t ask for more than that.

EE: No.

JB: Well thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.

EE: OK. Thank you very much.