The Hands (And Hearts) That Feed Us


Alphonso Lopez is just one student who gains great enjoyment from the experiences he enjoys in the IHS cafeteria.

Brett Beaulieu and Liam Russell, Staff Writers

“I’m Alphonso Lopez, and the subs are yummy, yummy, in my tummy.”

Sometimes, in the school paper business, you don’t pursue a story, but instead some facet of school life calls on you to find answers. A journalist’s job is to answer life’s toughest questions. Alphonso Lopez is a student at Ipswich High School, learning not just the content of his classes, but many of the questions of the human spirit and life as well. Hearing the aforementioned quote, the Transcript felt obligated to dig into the mind of this blossoming young man. 

What had driven this normally thoughtful, coherent, and kind young man, to deliver such a carefree and foolish sentence? Could it have been that Liam asked him “Alphonso, could you please say ‘Hi, I’m Alphonso Lopez, and the subs are yummy yummy in my tummy-’’ no, that is far too specific, and highly improbable. Clearly, there must be something deeper going on.

Perhaps, Alphonso’s sub is more than a meat-packed torpedo of nutrition. Maybe, when Alphonso thinks about his sub, he is not thinking about the wonderfully-spiced buffalo chicken, crisp lettuce, and fluffy bun, but something much less tangible. Alphonso’s sub is not just a sub, but rather a symbol of the friendship and safety he feels in Ipswich High’s cafeteria. Without fail, Alphonso’s food security is consistently maintained by the iron-strong cafeteria staff at IHS.

The lunch ladies are friends to all of the students of Ipswich High School. Symbols of security, generosity, and hard work, it is hard to find a student who does not share a special bond with the people who together literally form the hand that feeds them. Toni, one of the most experienced lunch staff, said that her interactions with most students are “very pleasant” and that she tries especially hard to plan the daily entrees that numerous students will purchase and enjoy.

However, as close as it may be, the cafeteria is not the utopian safehaven it first appears to be. Even though Alphonso proudly said that the lunch ladies and he were “the best of friends,” he declined to comment when asked to give one of their names. The situation is not abnormal, as even though many students express appreciation for IHS’ lunch staff, they wish they could form a more substantive bond with the lunch ladies and form a more complete understanding of one another. The sentiment is shared by some members of the staff, as Toni confessed that she sometimes wishes she could talk more with students, except they are in such a “rush” to eat or get a seat at a busy lunch table.

Luckily, the middle school Kindness Club has the perfect solution to connect students and the lunch staff. The club, founded by middle school teachers including Cape Ann League Cross Country 2019 Baker Division Coach of the Year Sue Markos, has constructed posters to thank each individual member of the cafeteria and janitorial staff. The posters add a vibrant and colorful corner to the cafeteria, and allow every student who passes through the cafeteria to learn a little bit about every member of the lunch staff. The posters are especially impactful because they highlight some of the least commonly appreciated members of the faculty, who are ironically also some of the most important staff in the building.

The actions of Kindness Club should inspire us to all come together around the true heart (and stomach) of Ipswich High School. Though nobody can challenge the fact that the lunch ladies and students of Ipswich High have a great relationship, it could be even better if we come together to accept honesty and kindness. Though students may feel busy when they pass through the lunch line, they should all take a second to get to know and appreciate the wonderful people who help make each of their days a little better.