The Dart: Washington enjoys cooking for elementary children

Published 12:01 am Monday, December 19, 2011

Rita Washington has been working for the Natchez-Adams County school district as a cook for 26 years. (Eric Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Cooking breakfast and lunch for a school full of hungry elementary children from 5:45 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. every day is no easy task.

Which is why Rita Washington was enjoying the start of her Christmas vacation with a lazy Saturday afternoon when The Dart landed on her house on Minor Street.

“I’m always so tired when I get home that usually I’ll just make a sandwich and go to bed because I have to get up the next morning and go to work,” Washington said.

Email newsletter signup

Washington has worked in the cafeteria of McLaurin Elementary School for seven years, but has been with Natchez-Adams County School District for 26 years.

“I raised my two kids in this school system thanks to this job,” Washington said.

Bouncing around to every school in the district, other than the high schools, Washington said her position helped her keep an eye on her two sons, Jerry Jr. and Micah, when they were in school.

“They really liked me being there because I could keep up with them,” Washington said. “If any problems came up the teachers knew where to find me, they didn’t have to wait until I got home to tell me they were doing something wrong.”

Constant changes in nutritional values and meal plans at the schools over the years might have made some children sad, but most of the changes have made Washington’s life easier.

“When I first started working we used to make a lot of stuff by hand and now everything comes in a box and all we have to do is put them on the pan — I like that.” Washington said.

With Christmas decorations placed in her front yard and more still in boxes in her living room, Washington said she was taking a break from decorating while she waited on her sister, Tangyell Giles, to arrive from Jackson.

After a hectic family filled Thanksgiving holiday, Washington said her Christmas shouldn’t be as eventful.

“I had a house full of people, and I’d wake up and be like ‘When I went to bed that person wasn’t over there,’” Washington said. “I’m hoping and praying that Christmas is going to be small this year.”

With most of her family in Jackson, the possibility of them showing up unannounced is also a possibility, Washington said.

“They’ll call me and say no I’m not coming but they’re actually already on the highway coming,” Washington said. “So when I cook I’m going to make some extra pans just in case so I can just throw those in the oven, and it’ll be good to go.”