Lynden Spotlight: Feeding LHS with Jill VanderGriend

Lynden Spotlight: Feeding LHS with Jill VanderGriend
Posted on 02/14/2017
When Jill VanderGriend started in the Lynden High School kitchen 10 years ago she was at the bottom of the ladder. She was the “pizza lady,” working just a couple of hours each day, she remembers. Ten years seems so long ago now, as VanderGriend has served as the LHS head cook since 2014.

In charge of the day-to-day operations of the kitchen, VanderGriend’s day starts at 6:30 a.m. getting breakfast served. After breakfast she starts in on lunch for the day, doing quite a bit of the food prep herself while managing the day and the four other works whom all help.

While Margie Bakker handles the menu planning for the entire district, VanderGriend oversees the food ordering and food preparation for LHS.

Each day takes on a life of its own at Lynden High School. Whether rice bowl Monday, fiesta bowl Wednesday or stuffed spud Thursday, the first four days of the week fall into a routine. Friday, though, gets mixed up as that day’s menu is always changing.

The most popular days, though, remain the Asian-inspired rice bowl for Monday and the mix of nachos, taco salads or soft tacos that highlight the fiesta bowl on Wednesday. “We have a schedule, so I know what needs to be done,” she says. “My Friday is the most tricky because I never know if the kids are going to like it. I’m guessing at what the kids will eat.”

This school year, averaging about 280 students per day has given VanderGriend a pretty good idea of what to expect from day to day and week to week.

But when the cooking at Lynden High wraps up, what keeps VanderGriend busy? And please don’t say dinner. “Oh, dinner is not my favorite,” she says with a laugh while saying she never craves the opportunity to cook once again. “But I make dinner.”

A Lynden native who graduated from Lynden Christian, VanderGriend enjoys hitting the Whatcom County trails with her husband. Their new love is Chuckanut Mountain, hiking to Fragrance Lake and exploring the trails that branch from there.

It doesn’t stop at Chuckanut trails, though. The couple also pedals aplenty on their bikes and enjoys the warm summer weather that allows for camping. “I love camping in a tent on the beach,” she says. “I can’t wait for the summer. I am an outdoor girl.”

Before summer comes, though, VanderGriend has 280 mouths to feed. Every day.