Suman Chand: 'All these kids want is somebody to listen'
Marina Vista Elementary Arts Academy
“It’s a rough world out there and all these kids want is somebody to listen (to them), someone to talk to and say ‘hey bestie, how are you doing?’,” says Marina Vista Elementary Arts Academy Cafe Manager Suman Chand.
“It just takes 15 minutes of your time,” Suman continues. “With people working two jobs, it’s hard to make time for these kids, but they need you. They really do need you."
Suman has worked for the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District for more than 10 years, first at Foothill Elementary and for the last six at Marina Vista Elementary Arts Academy. She began volunteering at Foothill Elementary, and someone said, “You’re here all the time, why don’t you get a job here?” And, that is how Suman began a career in MPUSD’s Nutrition Services.
Her average day begins around 7 a.m. and she sets up for the first meal offering at 7:30 a.m. Once she greets students, chats them up, and serves them breakfast, she quickly preps for the second chance breakfast at 9:45 a.m. Before she knows it, the time is 11 a.m. and she is busy welcoming students back for their lunch meal.
Suman originated from Fiji Islands and moved to Vancouver, Canada when she was just nine years old. She graduated high school in Canada before coming to the United States. Prior to MPUSD, Suman worked as a legal secretary for 17 years. Her boss at the time moved into the furniture business and Suman quickly found herself doing bookkeeping for him. Her children are her priority and when she began a family she wanted to find something that aligned to their schedule.
“Everybody that I work with is fantastic. Everybody. It doesn’t matter who it is,” says Suman. “I am just a lunch lady. I’m not that important, but I am important. These kids tell me that every day.” In fact, many even want her to go to middle school with them - that is how connected she is with her students.
“I can’t be at a better school. I get up in the morning and I love coming to work because of the kids. Every kid needs a good meal,” says Suman.
Outside of work, Suman cannot escape the kitchen. She loves to hang out with her children and always asks them what they want to eat. They love her cooking, and she likes to cook for them. When she isn’t cooking, you can find Suman walking the beach.