Thursday, March 06, 2008

Tuck Shop Lady

I have had some friends from far afield who have queried what being a Tuck Shop Lady is all about.

I shall do my best to illuminate.

What is Tuck?
"Tuck" is a slang term (from about the 1780s, if the internet is to be trusted) for food. You "tuck in" when you are eating with gusto. You have a tucker box to carry food in. At school, you go to the tuckshop to get tuck shop.

What is Tuckshop?
And generally, schools have "tuckshop" - sometimes every day, sometimes sporadically depending on the size of the school and the volunteer veracity of the parents. This is a place where, for only a small amount of money parents can choose to order their child's lunch rather than contemplate and carry out making lunch boxes for their little darlings. It can also be used for bribery and reward systems.

What is a Lady?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha - not me, that is for sure. Honorific title only.

Why the Tuckshop Lady?
I suppose "Tuckshop Woman" sounds too much like a seventies song!

Is there anything special about being a Tuckshop Lady?
There is a phrase that has achieved notoriety in Australia (due to the utterances of an Australian Idol judge a few years ago) regarding the arms of such a creature. However, one does not require to be a TSL to have flappy arms, and not all TSL have such appendages. I shall remain mute on whether I conform.

Anything else special about being the TSL?
Yep, you get to yell at the kids and be really nitpicky about the amount of noise, mess and general disruptiveness they cause. You can call them on swearing and make them do maths for you.

Anything else special about the job that does not involve latent schoolmarm tendencies?
Umm, if you are lucky you might get a free lunch.

What does the Tuckshop Lady do?
  • Work out what the kiddlies are likely to eat next week and order all the goods for that. For a school of 300 children with 3 days of tuckshop, that equates to a truckload of food.
  • Shop for any extras not on orders.
  • Put all the stuff away (isn't that always the pain!).
  • Prepare salad and fruit salad stuff, small snacks and packs.
  • Sell any snacks people might want before school.
  • Run through the list 100 times on what this much money will buy.
  • Help with children unable to decide what to order.
  • Sort all the orders and money.
  • Make all the food required for morning tea.
  • Wash up. Wipe up. Clean all areas.
  • Bag all the morning tea requirements.
  • Sell any additional snacks people might want at morning tea.
  • Run through the list 100 times on what this much money will buy.
  • Make all the food required for lunch.
  • Wash up. Wipe up. Clean all areas.
  • Bag all the lunch requirements.
  • Sell any additional snacks and iceblocks people might want at lunch.
  • Run through the list 100 times on what this much money will buy.
  • Wash up. Wipe up. Clean all areas. Sweep all floors and bin rubbish and recyclables.
  • Work out the value of the orders.
  • Count all the money in the till and bag for banking.
  • Work out what is short for the next day and order/shop.
Repeat and repeat and repeat. For minimum wage. With no volunteers. On a job you didn't apply for, don't want but still do because no-one else will.

Honestly, it is more fun than I explain - well, when there is at least one volunteer to at least share a bit of the load. But as I was the volunteer until put into this role, there is a vacuum.

Return home exhausted and find more work waiting - which should be rejoiceful news except the legs won't move, the head is stuck on watermelon balls and you know you have to look forward to it again tomorrow.

I have told the P&C I will do so for only 2 weeks. They still have not advertised for anyone. Anyone see a train wreck approaching?


Melody said...

Oh gees you poor love. I seriously hope they advertise the job soon, for your sake.

Yo forgot to say that most Tuck Shop ladies are usually pretty crabby. Well, they were at my school anyway. Until you were in Year 12 then the crabby Tuck Shop lady was sweet as pie to you.

debby said...

See a train wreck approaching? Approaching?!!!!! Jeanie, the train has already jumped the track.

jeanie said...

Mel - oh, I can assure you, I did a great crabby Tuck Shop Lady today, in response to the banging on the windows as there food was not ready 5 minutes early.

Debby - oh, so that is what I felt run over me.

Julie Pippert said...


And how funny it is the same the world over, despite slang differences.

And hey...2 weeks notice is two weeks notice!


Years and years ago when I went to summer camp the Tuck Shop was were you went to buy treats: chocolates, potato chips and sweets that made up for having to eat camp food.
I can't remember if we were allowed a certain amount to spend each day or if it was limited to what you could talk your parents into giving you before you went home.

Bush Babe (of Granite Glen) said...

Oh dear... that does sound Tragic love. I think I would ring the President of the P&C and say are coming down with Tuberculosis. That should put a bomb under them. Maybe you could offer to word the ad for them? Hugs (and remember the kids probably LOVE you!).

Tracey said...

Also known in some parts of Australia as the school canteen. Tuck Shop seems to be a Queensland term, and possibly catholic or private schools in NSW. (ie. I went to public schools and my kids go to public schools and it's called the canteen. Husband went to Catholic school and it was the tuck shop.) Can't speak for other states.

I don't think it's quite the same as a cafeteria in northern america, or even england. Usually tuck shops/canteens here provide food that has been ordered (on a brown paper bag) and is put in the paper bag for collection. Sandwiches, rolls, and pies and sausage rolls used to be the staples -now there are such things as Healthy Canteen policies... Do you have to run the tuck shop according to that Jeanie?

I was on the canteen committe as secretary for a while, until I clashed with the new canteen supervisor too many times. (You don't treat volunteers the way she treated me...)and so now I don't go near the place. I'm too scared to volunteer at the high school one. I've heard stuff about the paid supervisors being slave drivers, and I figure I don't need that.

While I call them canteens, I still have tuck shop lady arms.

Bettina said...

Stick to your guns. Only do the two weeks then let them close the tuck shop.


If the P & C aren't moving their bums on this then I'm quite sure that a few complaints from parents whose children couldn't have tuckshop will get them moving.

It's happened at our school when volunteers were just not volunteering. Funny how many all of a sudden decided that yes. It is important to help out occasionally.

Me, I love doing tuckshop. Our canteen manager is a doll and makes us the best lunches!

lightening said...

LOL. Great description. Here we have a canteen rather than a tuckshop and it's all outsourced to a local business so no "canteen duty" to be done. :( I have NEVER done a volunteer canteen shift. *sigh* The things us modern mums miss out on!!!! ;) Unfortunately outsourcing has also meant an increase in prices too. :( As for WHY they outsourced it...apparently that is a bone of contention if you ask the Parents & Friends ladies.... who's have thought school could get so political!!!!

JaniceNW said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh a food worker or a lunch lady. What's minimum wage there? I think we pay our lunch ladies something like 12 dollars an hour. They are desperate for them in our district.

I can see where one would burn out on this job.

Thanks for the answers and Idol judges are morons!!!!

jeanie said...

Tuckshop these days is very much controlled by healthy eating policies - which means no more lollies, deep-fried treats and chips. It also means salad rolls, fresh fruit snacks and low-sugar drinks.

Yesterday I actually had a volunteer for half the day - what a difference! I now know how much the previous convenor must have loved me!

tiff said...

Jeanie Jump! Jump NOW!!!

It doesn't matter how cute tuck shop lady sounds for you as a title, my advice (as a retired tuckshop chick) is JUMP!!!!