When asked to recommend an exceptional food service staffer for this feature, Director of Food Service Victoria Davis quickly suggested Slauson Middle School Kitchen Manager Kris Rendall, who has worked for AAPS for 36 years.
“She is dedicated and works hard and figures out what to do when a product doesn’t arrive for meals with supply chain shortages,” says Davis, noting a familiar problem during the pandemic.
Kris Rendall grew up in the small village of Dixboro in northeast Ann Arbor, and attended Ann Arbor Public Schools, graduating from Huron High in 1970.
Her father worked in construction and her mother was a stay-at-home mom, who enjoyed crafting as a hobby, often participating in craft shows on the weekends. Kris is one of two children, she has an older brother. She went to school in Ann Arbor, graduating from Huron High School in 1970.
Rendall began her career in food service with Ann Arbor Public Schools in 1986, a convenient option while her young daughter at the time was in school, attending AAPS. After being in the field for some time, she developed a love for cooking, while being able to work in an environment with kids, providing meals for them.
Rendall began her AAPS food service career at Scarlett as a food service worker, then advanced to a head cashier position at Clague, followed by a promotion to kitchen manager at Forsythe, Skyline and Slauson, where she is currently located.
She and her husband Mark live in Jackson. They have one daughter, Mitzi, who also works for AAPS, and two granddaughters: Kaylee, a senior at Huron, and Ashlyn, a sixth grader at Clague. Outside of work, Rendall enjoys interior design, working in her yard, landscaping, and planting flowers.
Describe an average workday.
An average workday for me begins at 5:30 a.m. I start my day by opening the kitchen and preparing for breakfast service, then serving breakfast to the students. Once breakfast is complete, I begin prepping for lunch service, then serving, then cleaning up and completing any end-of-the-day tasks. I also supervise two associates that assist me in the kitchen. My day ends at 2 p.m.
Has the current worker shortage affected your job?
Being short-staffed definitely adds to our individual workloads, but I don’t feel that my job has been affected in any way. I still ensure that all that needs to be done, is done while meeting all expectations.
What’s the most challenging part of your workday?
Due to occasional product shortages, it is sometimes challenging to follow the written menu, but with support from management, we work together to come up with a solution.
How is your job affected when COVID or bad weather forces a pivot to a virtual learning day—as happened earlier this month?
When in-person learning transitions to a virtual learning day because of Covid, I still report to work to begin prepping for upcoming days. When bad weather turns a scheduled in-person learning day into a virtual day, sometimes I still have to report to work in order to receive and put away any orders that will still be coming in.
What’s the happiest part of your day?
My happiest part of the day is any meal service when I am able to interact with the students. It is so rewarding to hear and see their appreciation for the meals and service that we provide.
Do you like to cook? Do you cook at home, too?
I do enjoy cooking, I used to cook at home more often than I do now. Currently, my husband does a lot of the cooking, because he enjoys it… and is very good at it!
What’s one of your hidden talents? Decorating.
You’ve been with AAPS for 36 years—21 years as an AAPS employee and 15 years as a Chartwells employee for AAPS. How does that feel? What are the biggest changes you’ve seen?
It feels great to be able to still be doing something that I love after so many years. There have been many changes along the way… staff, menu options, to name a few.
The only app that I really use is Facebook. I do enjoy it!
What makes working at Slauson unique?
The age and history of the building alone make working at Slauson unique, but also the fact that my mom attended Slauson for her junior high school years back in the 1940s.
How do you like working for Chartwells?
I enjoy working for Chartwells and love the fact that I get to work for Chartwells in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
Do you work year-round?
It depends if there is work available. Last year I was able to work throughout the summer months, assisting with the summer operation consisting of meal distribution and summer feeding. I have also worked in previous years assisting with summer school food service.
What’s most exciting about your professional life right now? Your personal life?
The most exciting thing for me right now is this recognition. What I do every day is for the kids, but after so many years of service, being recognized feels amazing.
The most exciting thing for me personally is that my oldest granddaughter is about to graduate high school. I am so excited for her and to see what the future will bring.