Bombardier-Working to Make “Kids Happy”


Jennifer Bombardier Photo credit: Paxton Getty

Madison Gagner, Contributor

After a stressful day in the Bellows Free Academy cafeteria, the employees of the lunchroom clean and prepare for tomorrow’s lunch.  Jennifer Bombardier, the cafeteria manager, restocks the deli bar. 

In an interview with The Mercury, Jennifer Bombardier explained how she took a job in the BFA cafeteria while in between jobs. Within nine months she had secured a management position and is now in her 24th school year at BFA. 

Bombardier said that recently her team of employees has been short-staffed, and she confirmed that it has put a strain on them all.  She added that they are having trouble finding people who are qualified and committed. 

“It has hurt morale,” Bombardier said, “It’s hard because it puts so much workload on the people that do come in every day.”

Despite the stress, Bombardier said, “We try to stay positive and think of the big picture, which is making the kids happy and that gets us through our day.”

When asked if she felt valued in her work by students and adults at BFA, Bombardier said that although she thinks things have changed over the years, people were not so understanding in the past. 

“Everybody had the mindset that everybody was just low-income, uneducated workers, not understanding that most of my employees have college degrees, are moms and are just trying to pick up a school schedule that matches their children’s,” Bombardier said.

Bombardier said that the hardest part of her job is the assumptions people make about The Abbey’s meal program.  She said that many people do not know that The Abbey Group doesn’t control the kinds of food they are allowed to serve or the pricing. 

Bombardier also said that in order to offer free and reduced lunches, there are many USDA guidelines that they have to follow. 

“I think that’s my hardest thing is people don’t understand, and they just assume,” Bombardier said of the program.  

Ultimately, despite the challenges Bombardier and her team face, there are some perks to doing what they do.  She said the students make it worthwhile. 

“I love my interaction with the students,” Bombardier said. “And I love to cook, so you put those two together and it’s just a win-win. I really enjoy my students.”