This post is part of the Lynden Schools Staff Spotlight series
Jill VanderGriend plays Tetris every day at Lynden High School. And it’s for the good of the students, as she maneuvers through the tight confines of the LHS kitchen to ensure a variety of quality food options for the roughly 325 students eating meals daily at Lynden High.
VanderGriend kicked off her time at Lynden with a two-hour position in the Lynden High School kitchen in 2007. She eventually became the kitchen manager and now works with food service director Narlene VanBeek to handle the daily planning at the high school in terms of ordering and serving (including some cooking) the variety of hot entrees, sandwiches, salads, wraps, yogurt parfaits and more served to the roughly 325 students daily.
“I feel like I’m playing Tetris on a regular basis,” she says about the limited freezer and fridge storage in the outdated building, adding that she’s hopeful a new LHS building will create an even better atmosphere for staff and students.
Her day kicks off at 6:30 a.m., working with coworkers to set up breakfast. “I would say we are a great working, well-organized team,” she says. “There is quite a bit of laughter and sharing of personal stories.”
Getting to Know Jill
Having raised five kids of her own—and now spending time watching her six grandkids play soccer—she says she’s always enjoyed working with teens, making her role at Lynden High that much more special.
Beyond her family and her work, VanderGriend and her husband, Duane, enjoy the outdoor activities available in the Pacific Northwest, from walking to hiking and biking to their new favorite sport of kayaking. “You are never too old to learn new things,” VanderGriend jokes about her time on the water. At least on a lake, there’s no need to play Tetris with space.