It takes a big heart to shape little minds; and for Linda Ammann, the proof is in the pudding.
Ammann, a nutrition production manager for the Monona Grove School District, is celebrating a nearly 30-year career with the district.
In 1991, Ammann began working at Winnequah Elementary School (WES) in Monona. She took the position as a way to be closer to her daughter, a WES first grader at the time.
Throughout the years, Ammann slowly made her way across the district.
After starting at WES, Ammann eventually transferred to Maywood Elementary and then to Taylor Prairie. She now serves at Glacial Drumlin in Cottage Grove and hopes to stay there through retirement.
Looking back, Ammann said she had no idea that her part-time gig would eventually turn into a thirty-year career with Monona Grove schools.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Ammann reflected. “It was like, ‘how hard was it going to be, just putting food on the kids’ lunch trays.’”
Yet, what started as simple as filling the students’ lunch trays soon blossomed into what Ammann describes as some of her most memorable life experiences.
Ammann said some of her favorite memories over her 30-year career have come from sitting with the students and talking about life.
Known by her students as Lunch Lady Linda, the impact Ammann has made on the student body is immense. Ammann said on top of being invited to many of her students’ weddings, she still receives emails from past students thanking her for being a beacon of light in their life.
It isn’t just the students who feel the impact of Ammann’s hard work, however. Glacial Drumlin Principal Kristen Langer described Ammann as happy, vibrant, and a pillar of the district.
“Linda is not just a person who works in the lunch room, she is a part of our staff, a team member, she understands the bigger picture,” Langer said. “Linda knows that students come first, she does not let other things get in the way and she can roll with the challenges. Linda is a strong, positive, backbone of who we are and how we serve students.”
While she isn’t in it for the accolades, Ammann’s dedication to her work certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. In 2017, she was named Manager of the Year for the state of Wisconsin from the School Nutrition Association.
Although it’s been four years since she won the award, if there ever was a perfect time for Ammann’s work to be commended, it’s now.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the shut-down of several schools this year, Ammann said it’s had a huge impact on her work life.
“COVID has had a very big impact on my job, from not seeing the students every day to not doing what we do best, which is serve,” Ammann said.
Despite the setbacks due to COVID-19, the Monona Grove nutrition program is doing what it can to push forward.
“We are doing our best to get lunch and breakfast out to the students,” Ammann said. “We are preparing around 8,000 meals a week to deliver to each home.”
Glacial Drumlin delivers breakfast and lunch to students’ homes twice per week, Langer said. Meals are delivered by bus every Tuesday and Thursday, with staff leaving meals on the students’ front porches. Each delivery contains enough food for each school day breakfast and lunch until the next day’s delivery.
“We are often short-staffed, but they make it work,” Langer said. “Linda leads this daily. She plans, orders, prepares, cheerleads and gives thanks.”
Through the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, Ammann said she is excited to continue on her 30-year legacy and press forward for Monona Grove students.