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 I walked into the main office and thought, What time does the movie start? Somebody had made popcorn in the small kitchen area near the office and the smell permeated the entire area.Popcorn   

I usually put up with the occasional smells that floated from that area – warmed up pizza, leftover mushu pork, various frozen lunch entrees.  I didn’t like it, but I never wanted to make a big deal about it.  After all, the office staff often ate lunch at their desks so they could continue working, and I didn’t want to give them a hard time.

But today I had to rethink the situation.  Food smells definitely detracted from the professional ambiance I wanted.  And really, people shouldn’t be eating at their desks.  Not only is it not good for business, it’s not really good for them either.  They need to take a break.  They weren’t happy with the new rule, but they complied.

The problem is that in some schools there’s no place for the staff (including the administration) to eat.  If you’re lucky you have a staff lunchroom that’s separate from the faculty room.  My secretary, for example, never wanted to eat in the faculty room because either a) people tried to pump her for information or b) she had to listen to criticism of a recent administrative decision.  She solved the problem by going home everyday for lunch.

I usually chose to eat in the kitchen of the school cafeteria.  I’d go through the line so as not to engender criticism but then duck back into the kitchen area where I ate at a small cutting board table.  There were two major benefits to eating lunch here.  First of all, I could taste and monitor what the kids were being offered and confer with the kitchen staff.  Secondly, faculty knew my routine and could find me there if they needed to talk to me.  The danger for some administrators who choose this venue is it is easy to be lulled into not paying for food.  This is a huge mistake and one that will be duly noted outside the kitchen.

The other danger is putting on an easy 5 pounds a year.  

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.