It was a sweet treat for the cafeteria workers at Lehighton Area Middle School.
After years of preparing and serving foods to hundreds of hungry students, cafeteria employees were treated to a free lunch last week, courtesy of 99.9 The Hawk's "Back to Work Perk" contest.
The staff was nominated for the contest by middle school art teacher Jessica Gasper.
"They serve us every day and they're always smiling. You can tell that they love the students, and they were so nice to me as a new teacher," said Gasper, who often listens to 99.9 The Hawk in her classroom during art classes. She called the station to nominate the cafeteria staff members about two weeks ago after hearing about the contest.
"I thought they deserved to be served a meal for a change," she added. "They were surprised and really appreciative, and the party was fun. They were all scratching off lottery tickets."
Gasper also noted that the "Perk" included not just a meal, but 99.9 mugs and T-shirts and nearly 100 Pennsylvania Lottery tickets. The party was broadcast live and staff members were able to request songs and be interviewed on the radio.
The lunch came as a surprise for the cafeteria staff, who couldn't remember the last time they've been honored with a meal. The treat was held on the last day of classes before winter break.
"We were surprised, and very flattered," said head cook Dawn McCabbe. "It's a nice little Christmas treat. It couldn't have come at a better time."
The "Back to Work Perk" is a weekly contest that encourages area residents to listen to 99.9 The Hawk at work and enter for a chance to win a free catered lunch from Chick-fil-A in Lower Nazareth.
"We do this every week to thank our listeners at work. It's been a huge success," said Kara Curry, a DJ at 99.9 The Hawk, who noted that the contest has been running for more than 10 years. "Every Friday we get to visit a new workplace."
While most offices who win the weekly "Perk" are nominated by an office member or manager, Curry noted that this may be the first time that employees were nominated by an outside party in this case, by a teacher who wanted to show her support for the school's cafeteria staff.
"The people who work at the cafeteria were really great. I was told that it's the first time they've really been honored."
Curry encouraged other area businesses to listen to 99.9 The Hawk during lunch and nominate their office or other deserving offices in their building for the weekly Back to Work Perk by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org .