Cuisine Queens: Freshlunches employees Shari Dillon, Nancy Eisenberg ‘thankful’ to work with Archer


Photo credit: Rio Hundley

Nancy Eisenberg and Shari Dillon, two employees of FreshLunches, stand in the village during lunch. Dillon has been working at FreshLunches for seven years and Eisenberg for four and a half.

Students swarm the Freshlunches table, grabbing the assortment of brown paper bags. Calm despite the chaos, Freshlunches employees Shari Dillon and Nancy Eisenberg hand out hot meals.

Despite the daily hustle and bustle, Eisenberg says she “feel[s] very fortunate to be here.”

Seven years ago, Dillon was introduced to Freshlunches while she scrolled through CraigsList, looking for a job that would allow her to care for her autistic grandson.

“I couldn’t work a [regular 9-to-5] job and be home in time to get [my grandson] off the bus, ” Dillon said.  “But I was looking at Craigslist one night, at three o’clock in the morning, and I [thought], ‘Oh my god, these are the perfect hours.'”

Eisenberg became interested in Freshlunches because she enjoyed working with children; she had worked previously as a teaching assistant. After being interviewed multiple times, she was hired and has been working at Freshlunches for four and a half years.

Dillon described the Freshlunches process as “pretty simple.” First, Freshlunches employees receive a list of ordered food each day. They use the list to collect the correct amounts of food, including extras for walk-ups, before driving to the school. After handing out the lunches they return to the Freshlunches facility, where they clean up and load the van for the following day.

One reason Eisenberg says she is “thankful” to be working at Freshlunches is the “polite” attitude of Archer girls, a view that Dillon shares.

“[Politeness] really makes a difference,” Dillon said.

Dillon also said she wished she could remember the names of students.

“I feel so bad, … but I know your faces, but I can’t remember your names. I know it when I’m looking at your bag, but [I forget],” Dillon said. “I [think] ‘Oh my god, there’s three Chloes — which one is it?'” 

Eisenberg and Dillon say they “enjoy” serving lunch during the weekly tradition of music Fridays. The tradition was created by the student council this year, where each grade will have the chance to choose music to play.

“When we’re out in the courtyard watching everybody dance, and music [is] going … it’s very uplifting,” Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg and Dillon expressed curiosity about former Archer girls and their whereabouts.

“I really hate it when you guys graduate…and we always wonder what happened to [you],” Dillon said, “We’ll never find out.”

Even before graduation, Eisenberg notices the day-to-day absences of Freshlunches regulars

“I miss the girls when they’re not here,” Eisenberg said. “And I’m so happy when they come back. So that’s something I wish you’d know.”