SHS’s Lovely Lunch Ladies


In order from left to right: Jen Valerio (Cook), Pam Sterle (Salad and Fruit Bar), and Jennifer Campbell (Kitchen Manager).

Scarlett Campbell, Staff Reporter

Here at SHS, we love and appreciate all of our staff members, but there are three wonderful ladies who go unnoticed most of the time. Our food service staff! These three amazing women do so much for the students and other members of our staff.

Jennifer Campbell, the kitchen manager, enjoys the flexibility included in her position. Her schedule allows her to have the same time off as her two kids, and that permits her to spend more time with them.

“I really enjoy the creativity my job offers,” she said.

Prior to the pandemic, when a full salad and fruit bar was offered to students at lunch, the kitchen staff was able to be more innovative with their food. They often try to incorporate seasonal themes into their food. For instance, Halloween is one of her favorites, since she gets to plan fun salad and fruit bar arrangements. “Please know we miss it!” she said.

Jennifer has two kids, Scarlett and Kade, as well as her two dogs, Kahlua and Malibu. She’s lived in several places such as New Jersey, New York, Illinois, California, and Iceland. Her and her family hail from Chicago, so she’s a die hard Cubs, Blackhawks, and Notre Dame fan.

Jen Valerio is the cook who also enjoys the flexibility that comes with her job. She really loves the people she works with.

“We all have a really great dynamic; we work really well together and we’re always laughing,” said Valerio. Her day consists of cooking breakfasts and lunches and the clean up afterward.

Jen has five cats. Gracie, Fiona, Buddy, Cleo, and Seeka. She loves animals of all kinds. She has three kids, and is a huge horror fan.

Pam Sterle is also a cook at the high school. She manages the salad and fruit bar, as well as basic prep for lunches.

“I love seeing all of your smiling faces, even if it’s under a mask,” said Sterle. This year, the biggest downside of her job is not being able to utilize the creativity that is always stirring up back in the kitchen. When school returned to in-person learning, there were special guidelines provided for the food staff.  One of the unique things about Pam’s role in the kitchen is that this year, she is also the baker. She makes the muffins, breakfast bars, and desserts for holidays.

“I like adding a little something sweet to your day,” she said.

In addition to her role at Salida High School, she also owns the Drunken Muffin Bakery where she continues to pursue her love of baking. She grew up in Missouri and Kentucky. And she’s a huge Hallmark fan, especially the Christmas movies.

The kitchen staff at SHS are a truly amazing group of ladies. They work hard to serve students and staff with delicious food, and they enjoy every minute of it. When you see them, make sure to thank and appreciate them because they deserve it.