Three cash registers jingle with coins. Students with their unpaid school lunches form an amoeba-like crowd around the Quest Food Management Services Cashiers: Jaqueline Younatham, Eva Odisho and Arianna Cox. The cafeteria is packed, echoing with students’ chatter as the smell of pasta sauce fills the room.
In the midst of this, Arianna Cox, Quest cashier, said she enjoyed the familiar rhythm of another hectic day in the cafeteria.
“I like when there are a lot of kids,” said Cox. “The day goes by faster, it keeps me busy and I look at it as a challenge.”
Cox arrives at Glenbrook North by 9 a.m. to stock the drinks and snacks before Lunch 1 begins.
By 4 p.m., Cox leaves school to pick up her 5-year-old daughter, Aaliyah Cox, from elementary school. Cox said they spend quality time together by going to their local park and reading bedtime stories.
Cox also said she goes out on monthly dates with her husband, Kimani, by dining at Benihana. Other days, Cox enjoys binge-watching TV and Netflix, recently finishing the third season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Before working at GBN, Cox graduated from Evanston Township High School in 2012 and enrolled at Jackson State University, majoring in elementary education. After two years at college, she had Aaliyah and moved back to Illinois. Later on, Cox was referred by her godmother for a Quest cashier job at GBN.
Now, Cox, after two years at GBN, is a Quest supervisor–in–training. Cox is also enrolled in online courses at Northeastern Illinois University to continue her bachelor’s degree in pursuit of her unforgotten dream: becoming an elementary school teacher. She also plans to attend the university later on.
Cox is planning on taking a maternity leave in November for her second baby girl, Kalani, who is due Nov. 19.
Although it was not her initial pick to work as a “lunch lady,” Cox said GBN has been a positive experience.
“I was a little scared when I took the job because I thought … kids will be mean to the lunch lady,” said Cox. “But no, everybody here is really great … Hopefully, I can move out to this community, and my daughters can go to this school [too].”