In this edition of our Meet our .. series, we chat with Tuckshop Convenor Michelle Gerard. As well as being in charge of the day-to-day operations of the tuckshop, Michelle manages the product and produce purchasing, updates and advertises the menus, and delights our kids with fun-themed Lolly Bag and Homebake stalls.
Michelle started in the convenor role in February 2020, and works with a team of two regular, paid staff. Although her children are all grown-up now (well, in high school!), they both attended New Farm from P-6 and Michelle was a regular volunteer during their school years.
We checked in with Michelle to see what a ‘normal’ tuckshop day looks like and find out a little more about her and her team.
Is there any such thing as a ‘normal’ tuckshop day?
There is! On our regular open days, I arrive about 7.30am, set up for the day, print out the online orders, and take any over-the-counter sales from our parents, students and staff. We average about 130 orders/day – Wednesdays and Fridays are definitely our busiest days!
Throughout the morning I oversee our volunteers, as we work together to make our fresh meals, salads, sandwiches and snacks – we offer about 20 choices of meals and snacks. We leaving our packing of orders until the very last minute – to keep our salads and drinks cold and our hot foods as toasty warm as can be.
After the first break delivery and collection of orders is done, our volunteers head home and the paid staff and I roll up our sleeves to tidy up and prepare any food for the next open day. This is usually when I take stock and place any orders.
On the days tuckshop isn’t open, you’ll find me planing our special Lolly Bag/Homebake stalls, making any changes to the menu, meeting with the P&C or suppliers, banking takings and organising our volunteer roster. I love creating fun new advertising for our P&C Facebook page, so keep an eye out for specials there!
Oh wait, there are paid staff alongside the volunteers? How does that work?
Yes, there are three of us working as part-time staff. We also have a roster of about 12 regular volunteers – we need one volunteer every Monday, two on a Wednesday and three extras on our busy Fridays.
To give you an idea of what we do, Rachael is our superstar chef, cooking up our rice meals on Mondays and pastas on Wednesdays. She’s had three children attend New Farm, and volunteered in the tuckshop for many years before taking on a paid role about seven years ago. Rachel is an invaluable source of historical knowledge – what works, what not to try, where and when to order our stock.
Our other team member is Michelle L; she has four kids (two now at high school and two at New Farm). Michelle also volunteered and brought in home bake for many years before becoming a paid employee last year. Michelle helps Rachael make our meals, makes our pizzas on Wednesdays, preps our Mexi Meals on Fridays and is a general organising whiz. Michelle always has an answer ready when one of our volunteers is unsure of how to make up an order, or what their next task could be.
The tuckshop will always need paid staff to ensure our doors open on-time, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and that we offer a regular menu cooked in a way the kids know and love. We need consistent ordering and to know that meal prep will always be done, as efficiently as possible. We also work on our fun days, and manage our volunteer roster. We do all love our work and appreciate that these positions are available.
How do you find your volunteers?
I’m very lucky to have a regular volunteer two days each and every week, and a group of about 10 experienced volunteers I book in for a shift about once every two weeks. Every bit of help is greatly appreciated!
Our volunteer sessions start anywhere between 8.30 and 9.00am and finish up as we deliver first break at 11.00am. If you have a spare two hours every now and then, please reach out at email@example.com to discuss (you do not need a blue card if you are a parent of a child at the school).
There was a survey on the tuckhsop recently .. do you think this will inspire any changes?
Yes, definitely. Some of the most requested changes, like offering pizzas on more days simply aren’t possible though 🙁 – we simply don’t have enough ovens to keep all our food warm. No-one likes a freezing cold pizza!
We’re always looking for new menu items, and enjoy celebrating special events like Halloween and Christmas.
Smaller portions are one thing we’ve long considered, so expect to see mini pasta portions on the menu soon – I think these will be particularly popular with our Preppies and Grades 1s.
We’re always working with the P&C and school to survey as many of our students as possible, for their ideas and feedback.
I get the feeling you’re one of the lucky ones who enjoy their job?
My fondest memories of being a parent at NFSS would have to be volunteering in the Tuckshop at least once a month for quite a few years. It was a great way to meet other parents I wouldn’t usually cross paths with. I still remember my kid’s calling out my name and waving to me through the tuckshop door, so proud and happy to see me working there. I also enjoyed volunteering each fete year to be our class parent Fete Representative. I’ve organised a Sweet Stall, a Treasure Hunt Stall, a Mini Ekka Stall and an International Food Stall – they were all very rewarding and fun experiences, lots of hard work but fun all the same!
It’s a joy being the school’s Tuckshop Convenor, I couldn’t ask for better workmates or better children and staff to serve.