Carteret County Schools searches for cafeterias workers amid shortage

Beaufort Elementary School child nutrition worker Sandra Westmoreland grabs a sandwich to serve to a student Aug. 25. The Carteret County school system is currently short-staffed in school cafeterias and advertising for workers. (Cheryl Burke photo)

BEAUFORT — As with many food service businesses, the Carteret County school system’s child nutrition program is struggling with a shortage of workers to serve meals in cafeterias.

“We’re down six cafeteria workers, but three of those are at West Carteret High School,” child nutrition director Melissa Albright said Tuesday. “We’ve only got two employees right now at East Carteret (High School). We’ve also got two people out on quarantine due to COVID.”

Ms. Albright said she normally has about 65 employees working in the 17 public school cafeterias across the county.

To make up the shortage, she said other school employees, from central office staff to teacher’s assistants, are being called on to serve in cafeterias. The district is also advertising the vacant positions on its website,, and at

“If there are parents out there who want to work the same hours as when their children are in school, this is the perfect job,” Ms. Albright said. “It’s a six-hour day, plus you get state benefits because it’s considered a full-time position.”

While most cafeteria workers take summer months off, that has changed in recent years due to the system’s summer feeding programs. Workers can opt to take summers off or work the summer season, according to Ms. Albright.

Carteret County Schools searches for cafeterias workers amid shortage

Beaufort Elementary School child nutrition worker Gale Jones prepares a container with food Aug. 25 as students wait. The Carteret County school system is in need of cafeteria workers. (Cheryl Burke photo)

Child nutrition workers at Beaufort Elementary School said Aug. 25 they consider their jobs a way to help students.

“I enjoy it,” Sandra Westmoreland said. “I get to see the kids everyday and it’s always something different.”

BES child nutrition employee Gale Jones agreed.

“I retired from (Marine Corps Air Station) Cherry Point. I worked in the snack bar area and I needed something extra to do,” Ms. Jones said. “I enjoy being around people too much, and I enjoy the children.”

Ms. Albright said people don’t need prior food service experience to apply to work in school cafeterias.

“Sometimes it’s more preferable if they don’t have previous experience because school food service is different,” she said. “We can teach from the ground up.”

Across the board, the county school system is currently advertising 29 vacant positions on its website. Open positions include food service assistants, electricians and HVAC technicians, teacher assistants —who also drive buses — and warehouse personnel. There are also five teacher positions posted, ranging from math to English language arts.


Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

(10) comments


30 hrs a week at what hrly rate?

Hard to understand why they are not beating a path to their door?


The brown bag bag worked for me. Close the cafeteria. No one will starve. Some may learn how to take care of themselves.


When we were homeschooling, my son had a video chat with his other kindergartners about 1pm. One of the little girls signing off message was "I'm hungry, I haven't eaten today".

So yeah, some families 100% need that help @noitall. Let's not work so hard to trying to make this some third world country. I think some christian values and charity aren't so much to ask for the kids.

David Collins

Sadly , brown bagging will not address those that have become addicted to free meals . The thought of actually feeding your children first gets in the way of other higher priorities . Sad !


"Addicted to free meals?"

Why, the nerve of those blood-sucking leeches, snuffling at the public trough ...


"More than 80% of all SNAP/food stamp benefits go to households with a child, senior, or disabled person. Most food stamp recipients are children and the elderly. Why would we want to turn our backs on hungry people?"

One might further ask, if this is a 'Christian' nation, as so many of our 'conservative' friends and neighbors would have us believe ... why indeed would we want to turn our backs on hungry people.

Or is the primary conservative 'Christian' tenet these days, 'Screw you, buddy ... I got mine!"

I'm surprised we aren't seeing comments about the blood-suckers living high on the hog on augmented unemployment bennies rather than gettin' out there and sweatin' for a living.


Was ij Walmart's and in front of me was a Woman with 2 carts mainly food but there were also other items such as toys and games. She gave the cashier a debit card for "food stamp" payment and the balance she gave cash. I had my stuff scanned and paid for and when I got outside the woman was with her 3 kids and loading the items into a BMW suv.

Wish I could afford a new BMW suv.

David Collins

Was referring to the parent , or maybe parents but they are rare today , that can have children but neglect them in so many ways . Proper feeding is one of them . Children are just children and need to be cared for . Yes the adults are addicted to the free meals just like all the other free stuff we love to throw at problems these days . Easier that actually doing anything punitive about it and easy rules .

Already had the discussion about the flood of Biden Bucks benefiting the lame , lazy and stupid to the point of encouraging other folks to elect to go on the dole as well . Make a heck of a lot more money and believe it to be tax free as well . What is not to love about that ?

Of course the rebound will be a lot more automation resulting in fewer jobs so when the gravy train laves the station , they all leave sooner or later , the job you vacated has left with the train . Things can turn from sugar to poop rather abruptly .


Let us not forget the $250 or $300 dollar monthly payment for each child. With unemployment ma and pa are rolling in dough.


and don't forget the rent that they have not been paying during the CDC moratorium. Next the courts will be filled with Landlords filling for eviction notices and the ex tenants living on the streets in tents in all cities & towns like Los Angeles and San Francisco.


If they want more people, they raise the compensation to attract more people to apply.

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