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Charly Haley, Published February 17 2013

School lunch account manager tries to make sure kids eating healthy

FARGO – She’s 63 years old, but Sharon Bladow still goes to school every day.

Bladow manages the lunch accounts at Lincoln Elementary School in Fargo, where she loves to work with children and tries her best to make sure they’re eating right.

Tell me about your job.

I work in the office and in the lunchroom. I take care of all the lunch accounts.

In the morning when I come, I set up the computers, and we have breakfast. We usually, on a normal breakfast day, have about 125 students that come in for breakfast. And there are certain guidelines that the FDA has set that each lunch tray has to have certain components on it. So you have to check that when the students go through, also.

We generally serve breakfast from 7:40 to 8:10. Then, I put all of the equipment away because we also have gym in our lunchroom. So, all of the equipment has to be put away until lunch.

Then I’ll come back to the office and do different office duties.

At 11 o’clock, I go back down to the lunchroom and set up for lunch again. We usually have normally 425 students that will come through the hot lunch line.

How many students are in the school?

It’s in the 480s right now. We serve the YWCA shelter, so our numbers fluctuate because of that. When they have school-age children there, we’ll have them.

All of the students have a lunch code that they put into the computer, and all of ours – kindergarten through fifth grade – know their lunch code and put it in.

They have to have certain components on their lunch tray, according to the FDA, so we check that, too. They have to have at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable, in addition to having three food groups.

What do you like about your job?

Everything. It’s been a really great job for me. I started when our youngest son was in third grade, and he’s 31 this year. … This will be my last year here, because I’m retiring after this school year.

I love the people I work with. You could not work with greater people. I love the kids. It’s just fun to see the kids, and every year come back and see how much they’ve grown over the summer.

They’re just – elementary kids are so much fun. Everything is a wonder to them. They get such pleasure out of the simple things, and everybody in the school is just like one great big family. I don’t know if all the schools in Fargo are like this, but I think Lincoln has always been just a wonderful place.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311