‘Lunch lady’ brings cheer to dining hall

By Kate Allen

Barbara D’Alvia serves meals in the “Home” section of Brewer Dining Hall. She can be seen with a smile on her face, and is a friend to all. | Photo by Abigail Harris

Whether it is a wave from across the dining hall or a compliment on one’s shoe selection, Barbara D’Alvia is a personality who lights up breakfast, lunch and dinner.

D’Alvia, known to students as “Ms. Barbara,” warmly greets each student as she serves them meals in the “Home” section of the Brewer Dining Hall.  She is eager to interact with the students as they come through her line requesting different meats and vegetables.

“She always wants to genuinely know how you are doing, and greets you with a huge smile,” said Caleb Booth, senior art major and friend of D’Alvia.

D’Alvia’s sociability has not gone unnoticed by students.  In the five years she has worked at Union, many have gained her friendship.

“I’ve eaten things from her station simply because she was there, even if I wanted something else more,” Booth said. “I give her hugs when she’s not behind the counter.”

Although she welcomes students with an ear-to-ear grin, she will honestly tell them how she is doing.

“She is not afraid to let you know if she is having a rough day,” Booth said.

The Puerto Rican native is the mother of 10, but claims all 4,186 students at Union as her children as well.

“You all are my kids. I feel like I am your mother,” D’Alvia said with a smile. “I don’t know how to put it into words. I worry about you.”

When she is not working, she is busy rummaging at garage sales or walking her dogs.  Though she has hobbies, she claims she would rather take care of  students.

“She lives for the students,” Booth said.

D’Alvia said, “I want to thank all the students for being so good to me. I love them all.”

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.