Hilda Kringstad, a caring, popular school cook

  • Article by: BEN COHEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 9, 2007 - 9:16 PM

Former students in Robbinsdale still enjoy the recipes she compiled into a locally hot-selling cookbook.

Hilda Kringstad was a school lunch lady who made a difference in students' lives.

Kringstad, who led the effort in 1972 to print a cookbook of school lunch recipes that is still sold for fundraising in the Robbinsdale School District, died of cancer on Friday.

The longtime Robbinsdale resident was 93.

Kringstad, who began as a school cook in 1950, would spot children who didn't get enough to eat at home and make sure they got what they needed.

Kringstad once noticed a girl who was often thirsty, a symptom of juvenile diabetes. It turned out that she did have the disease and Kringstad's watchfulness may have saved the girl from falling dangerously ill, said Kringstad's daughter, Kathryn Leigh Scott of Beverly Hills, Calif.

In the 1950s, Kringstad converted beloved family recipes into ones that could be prepared in large batches.

In 1972, she and her cooking colleagues reversed gears, paring down recipes and testing them for the recipe book.

About four years ago, the school reprinted the cookbook, said Fran Lapic, a former secretary for Robbinsdale schools.

"We had a run on it," Lapic said.

Kringstad, who worked at Lee Elementary and Sandburg and Plymouth junior high schools, liked to dress in holiday costumes, including traditional Norwegian garb.

"If you can't have fun while you're working, forget it," she said in a July 10, 2003, story in the Star Tribune.

In 1978, a food service association recognized her cooking skills, naming her an outstanding cook in Twin Cities schools. Also in 1978, her Spaghetti, Ground Beef and Tomato Casserole took top honors for the best recipe of all area schools.

At home, Kringstad would make Norwegian baked goods at the family's farm home in the Robbinsdale-Crystal area.

"It was a huge gathering place for children," said her daughter, who added that kids liked to work at the farm during vacation and got a bonus of cookies and cake.

Kringstad is a past president of Valdres Samband, a Norwegian cultural organization. Through this group and other volunteer efforts, she taught Norwegian folk dancing and cooking, performed in cultural skits, and worked in a literacy program.

After retiring in 1978, she made extra money creating kransekake, a large cake for special events.

Her husband, Ole, died in 1996. In addition to her daughter, she is survived by another, Sandra of Bloomington; sons Orlyn of Edina and David of Robbinsdale; sister Pat Peterson of Robbinsdale; brother Herman Karlsgodt of Brooklyn Center; four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church, 924 E. 21st St., Minneapolis. Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today at Gearty-Delmore Robbinsdale Chapel, 3888 W. Broadway, and at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the church.

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