Interviewee: Genetta Stephens
Interviewer: Jeffrey Boyce
Date: June 27, 2016

Description: Genetta Stephens is a foodservice worker in the Virgin Islands.

Jeffrey Boyce: I’m Jeffrey Boyce and it’s June 27, 2016. I’m here on St. Thomas with Genetta Stephens. Welcome Genetta and thanks for taking the time to talk with me.

Genetta Stephens: Thank you. You are most welcome.

JB: Could we begin today by you telling me a little bit about yourself, where you were born and where you grew up?

GS: My name is Genetta Stephens. I’m born in the island of St. Kitts.

JB: What is that near?

GS: Near to St. Martin.

JB: OK. That’s where you went to elementary school?

GS: Yes.

JB: Was there a lunch program there?

GS: Not at that time.

JB: So what brought you to St. Thomas?

GS: Well, my father was here and he brought me here.

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

GS: Because my father used to work at one point for Education, but now he’s retired. So I get in because of him.

JB: And when did you start working?

GS: 2005.

JB: OK. And what is your job title?

GS: Food service worker.

JB: What’s a day like for you? What do you do? You come in at six?

GS: Six o’clock, finish at two o’clock.

JB: And what do you do during that time?

GS: Well we do different chores, like we have fix the desserts for lunch, take out garbage, wash dishes, wash pots and pans, serve lunch, clean up the cafeteria.

JB: What’s your favorite part of your job? What do you like doing the most?

GS: Oh, well I like feeding the children. I like communication with the children. Me and most of them have a good relationship.

JB: What are some of their favorite menu items?

GS: They like chicken. They like rice. And some of them like hamburgers too.

JB: Are there any challenges you face, any hard things about your job?

GS: Well, you know sometimes you get a little stressful, you know, sometimes the kids, they will make a big mess in the cafeteria. They will throw the peas, throw the corn, you know, children. You have a lot of cleaning up to do sometimes.

JB: What changes have you seen in the profession over the years?

GS: Well, food maybe, food.

JB: How has it changed?

GS: Well, to me, you used to have a better variety.

JB: You don’t get as many items anymore?

GS: They used to get a lot of like fresh fruit and stuff like that, but for a long time they don’t get no fresh.

JB: You don’t get fresh fruit anymore?

GS: Sometime, but to me it used to be more. They does get here sometime, but to me it was more, it seems to me.

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

GS: Some special children, me and them get along, they go away, they come back and they look for me Mother’s Day. Some of them will call me from the States. They’re going to college. Some of them call me to say, “Happy Mother’s Day” because I have a good relationship with most of them. I like children.

JB: What advice would you give someone who was thinking about trying to get a job in child nutrition today?

GS: Well, make sure they love children, because some children could be disruptive, so you have to make sure you have patience and love for kids, so when they come into the cafeteria you learn to make them happy. “How are you doing today?” and greet them with a good smile. And sometime they have their face look sad. I say, “What happen to you? Come and tell me what happened.”

JB: Anything else you’d like to add?

GS: I like my job. Sometime as I say it get a little hard sometimes, but overall I like my job. I like my coworkers, working with them, and most of all I love the children.

JB: That’s important.

GS: Yes. I feel happy serving them. I make my jokes with them. I hug them. They hug me. Sometime they say, “Mrs. Stephens, you the nice lady. God bless you” some of them tell me and I say, “Thank you.” Some of them go away. With Mother’s Day they come here, they bring flowers, give me. Yes.

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

GS: OK. Thank you.