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Food service manager: Claire McCole shares life outside PAUSD

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Written by Elizabeth Chung

Food service manager Claire McCole has been working in food service for the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) for 13 years. “I started at the elementary schools and worked my way up,” McCole said. “The position for me to [work in] the Gunn kitchen became open last year, so I applied for it and here I am.”

McCole orders all of the food products to stay consistent with the school menus. “Sometimes, they send us the right thing, sometimes we get substitutes,” McCole said. “My main objective is to feed kids. If they get fed, I think I have done my job.”

Her story of getting into the field is quite unusual, as McCole had not planned on getting into food service specifically. “I was a stay-at-home mom,” McCole said. “One of the van drivers saw me dropping my kid o at school and we have known each other for many years. He came up to me and said, ‘What are you doing in the afternoon? Do you want a job?’ It worked really well because the elementary school is in the afternoon so I can still drop my kids off. It was perfect to get myself back into working after having kids.”

McCole has had various job experiences before getting involved in PAUSD. “I was a cosmetologist for 30 years before I had my kids,” McCole said. “I was a stay- at-home mom for 12 years then started in the food service. My first job was at A&W. I worked part-time for florists. I worked in the mail room for big financial company. I really like coming to work because I enjoy the people I’m working with.”

During her free time, McCole enjoys bowling. “I have been bowling since I was 6,” McCole said. “My mom was a bowler and I grew up in the nursery at Camino Bowl that used to be in Mountain View. So as I got older, I was bored so I tried bowling and became pretty good at it ‘for a girl’ as I was often told by the guys.”

McCole, who loves being outside, enjoys taking camping trips with her family. The last camping trip she took was with her family to Kampground of America in Cloberdale. “My grandson and I went for six days over spring break. We swam, rode bikes, went fishing for the first time and caught a fish.”

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Food service manager: Claire McCole shares life outside PAUSD