Barbara Franklin, Lead Food Service Worker in our K-12 line of business, knows first-hand how impactful hospitality can be to the young people we serve.
Having worked at various public schools throughout her Aramark career, Barbara Franklin has witnessed first-hand the impact our food services and staff can have on young people. As a leader and a mother, she lives for opportunities to help others grow while pursuing what is most meaningful to her.
“I often say, I enjoy the kids more than any other part of the job – because that’s really the heart of the job. You’re running around, your checking in on your staff, your making sure you get enough production out and it can be chaotic. But to me, when those kids walk through that door, that’s what I really love. I’m one of six kids, and so is my husband so, chaos and kids? I’ve always loved it.”
Barbara, however, through numerous promotions in her Aramark career, had the unique experience of being able to work with kids at every level – elementary, middle, and high school. This allowed her to develop deep connections with the community of young people she served that she still treasures to this day.
“My former kids from kindergarten, I miss them, but I still see them around my area. I once took my son to grab some fast food and when the drive-thru window opened, we heard someone yell out ‘THAT’S MISS BARBARA!!!’ My son jumped three feet out of his seat then asked ‘…Mom?”’ and I said oh, that’s just one of my kids. I’m so blessed to still see them nowadays. You know, I’m lucky I got to sort of follow them. They sometimes ask if I can go to college with them and I just have to say eh, I don’t think so.”
According to Barbara, however, it’s way more than just feeding kids and making friends. Sometimes, there are opportunities to have a much bigger impact on someone’s life. Barbara, who sees the kids she serves as a true source of joy in her life, is always willing to go the extra mile to make a difference if she can, including for one student who needed it more than ever.
“At the grammar school, we had one young man who came from a broken home. He was always late, always hungry, and had to walk to school in torn up shoes and a jacket that was too small. At that point, some of us got together and brought coats in, brought shoes in, and just did what we can.
Then I saw him again at the middle school, and when I saw him he said ‘Miss Barbara, you came!’ And he always kept the other kids from bothering me – but over time you could see a change in him. He was getting a little… harder. He was not as open and you didn’t see that shine in his eyes anymore. Then, when he got thrown out of the house, I went to the security guard, the Vice Principal, and a social worker to come up with a game plan to help.
We did what we could over time, and he would disappear for a week or two then come back, but his senior year I asked the guidance counselor about him and he said ‘you know what? Watch the graduation ceremony.’ I swear, when I saw that young man walk on that stage and grab that diploma, it felt like one of my own kids.”
To hear more about Barbara’s responsibilities as Food Service Lead, working at a school district, or how Aramark has supported her through her career, check out the Q&A!
— Barbara Franklin, Lead Food Service Worker
Hear more from our conversation with Barbara in the Q&A section below.
What brought you to Aramark?
My husband and I have two children, they're 11 years apart. Because I was working, I missed so much with my first child so I wanted a job where I could have more time with the younger one. So the hours are perfect, I'm not paying anybody to babysit my children during the summer. I got to experience more of them when they were little and that was what I was looking for. I was looking for a job where I could still have my children and not feel stressed. My kids were my main focus so the school environment is perfect.
What is it like being a Food Service Lead?
As the lead, I call it the gateway between the upper bosses and the rest of the staff. I have one foot in both areas. So I have to implement, train, make sure they're following procedures. In a former district I was ordering inventory from seven different companies. Here, it's a little more condensed, so I don't have to worry about that as much so it varies. It's the paperwork, it's making sure everything's on time, it's making sure that we're in close contact with the operations people so we can put our best foot forward. It's also about figuring out how your going to feed all these kids. I remember at one point I took over for someone who was producing the same amount of each food every day, no matter what, which upset me because at the end of the day there would be like 50 pounds of pizza in the garbage. So I took over and said "this is how we're gonna do it now," and lead a team around me to basically figure it out! Eventually the costs at that school went down, the sales went up, and I was told that I did a great job.
Have you felt supported at Aramark?
I remember years back, our district was changing and we ended up not getting the contract. I was happy at my little Grammar School where I was for 15 years, but things changed. That's when Aramark came to me and said, "Barbara we need you at the middle school" then, "We need you at the high school." Then, when I needed a change I reached out to an old manager and asked "can I come back to you?" He said absolutely. No questions asked, because he knew my work ethic. So that opportunity and that flexibility has meant everything to me. It's a home, and a family. I've had to call my manager in the past because of a family emergency and they're always supportive. It's knowing that you have the confidence of your boss to do what you have to get done, but also backing you when you need a little consideration.
Would you recommend your job to others?
If you have children, and you want to spend time with the children, it's the perfect type of job. You don't have to pay for your babysitters, you have your holidays, you have all that stuff. But in the meantime, you become a team, and that team will back each other to the point where you truly feel safe in your work environment. You work for them, they'll work with you, and you can build lifelong relationships. We're all in this together, if you're struggling, they'll help you because our supervisors want you to learn. They want you to know things, they want you to ask questions. Like I said, it just feels it feels like home, it's just a good place.