Friends of Jack honors ORR cafeteria workers

Feb 10, 2021

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Old Rochester Regional School District’s cafeteria workers have been working to make sure Tri-Town students don’t go hungry. Now, they’re being recognized for their efforts. 

The Friends of Jack honored the Old Rochester Regional School District cafeteria workers as “unsung heroes” with speeches and goodie bags on Feb. 10.

Friends of Jack, which was founded by Mattapoisett resident Jilline Fearons, works to enhance the physical, mental and emotional health and well-being for children across the South Coast. 

For the next two-and-a-half months, the foundation will honor those who do important community work, but go largely unrecognized.

The ORR cafeteria workers were chosen after the district’s Director of Food and Nutrition Services Jill Henesey submitted a letter to the Friends of Jack, detailing their contributions to the community in the pandemic.

“I appreciate everything that you do in and out,” Henesey said to a group of the ORRHS cafeteria staff.

Henesey said that the part of their work that’s “nearest and dearest” to her is the staff’s work to make sure kids in the Tri-Town don’t go hungry.

In her letter to the foundation, Henesey detailed all the work the Old Rochester cafeteria staff have done throughout the pandemic.

Over the summer, Henesey explained in the letter, the staff worked on a rotating basis to distribute food to the community through the USDA’s Farmers to Families program.

Now, the cafeteria staff work through all the district’s different learning models and students’ specific needs to make sure the kids are fed.

Despite students split between full time in-person learning, remote-only learning and a hybrid in-person and remote model, the ORR cafeteria workers have been able to provide free breakfast and lunch to the students who need it every day.

“This may not sound like a big deal, but I assure you, it is pretty complex and challenging,” Henesey wrote to the foundation.

The cafeteria staff at all of the district’s schools received a goodie bag from the Friends of Jack, containing a superhero cape, mask, mug and a copy of Henesey’s letter to the foundation.

“From the bottom of my heart, I truly can’t thank you enough,” Henesey said.

The Friends of Jack Foundation will continue to honor unsung heroes for the next two-and-a-half months. To advocate for more community members doing behind the scenes work, email