Woman has been serving meals at Bandera Middle School for half a century

'Like your job, be happy, think positive'

BANDERA, Texas – Every day of school at Bandera Middle School, Carolina Villanueva is behind the counter cooking up lunches and then serving them up to some 700 middle school students.

The remarkable thing is, Carolina has been doing it for 50 years starting this school year.

"I love my job, the school here is wonderful," said Villanueva.

She started working at the school in 1968. She had five daughters and a husband to help support. When she first got the job at the school, it wasn't exactly what she wanted to do for the next half century.

"Cleaning tables, mopping, then I said 'I can't do this all the time I've got to learn something else,' so I started making bread."

While she was learning those bread recipes, the cook quit, and next thing Carolina knew she was the new cook. It's been that way since.

"I like the work, I got used to it; now it's my life." Carolina said.

There are many things she has had to get used to over the years, like less cooking. She used to make a lot of the items, along with bread, like chili and rice, but now food selections are a lot healthier.

"We used to serve fries with chili and all that so they quit, that Frito pie, they quit that so it is different now, it's a lot of wheat," Villanueva said.

Another change is seeing the kids with cellphones and computers.

But the most impressive change, the numbers that have been served up over the years.

According to the school, Villanueva has worked:
400 months
1,440 weeks 
7,060 days 
45,890 hours
3,435,900 minutes

Then there are the thousands upon thousands of meals she has served not to mention the thousands of faces she has seen come through the line to enjoy her food.

Even though 50 years have passed, it seems like yesterday when she got started.

She was asked if she believed she would be at the school for 50 years.

"No never, and I still don't believe it," said Villanueva.

Probably because of the keys to success.

"Like your job, be happy, think positive," said Villanueva.

Villanueva's legacy extends beyond her years at Bandera Middle School, she has 14 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

About the Author

David Sears, a native San Antonian, has been at KSAT for more than 20 years.

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