For immediate release
January 24, 2012
Workers to hold demonstration at CPS Headquarters in conjunction with report release
Chicago, IL — Today, lunchroom workers who are members of UNITE HERE Local 1 are based on surveys from hundreds of lunchroom workers. The report, entitled "Feeding Chicago’s Kids the Food They Deserve: The Lunch Ladies’ View of Meals at Chicago Public Schools," reveals the inside story of the struggle our schools face in improving the lunch program for Chicago children. In the report, workers call on CPS to incorporate their skills and experience in the process of improving meals for CPS children. The release of the report is being held in conjunction with an action today outside CPS Headquarters at 125 Clark Street.
Over the last two years, CPS has made important changes to provide Chicago kids with healthier meals. Yet lunchroom workers—who put the food on kids’ plates and see what gets left in the trash—say more changes are needed. The report will be submitted to members of the Chicago Board of Education tomorrow (Wednesday, January 25) to coincide with the BOE monthly meeting. That same day, Michelle Obama will announce new nutrition standards for meals served in America’s schools.
The report cites a variety of problems and makes several recommendations to improve CPS school lunches.
Only 42% of those surveyed for the report said CPS students are eating the new food, and the workers say that not all principals are not leading by example. Fifty percent of surveyed workers report that they rarely or never see principals at their schools eating lunches from the cafeteria. Lunchroom workers support healthier food in the schools but say they want more input, with 75% of respondents reporting that they did not have input in the recent food changes.
Going forward, the workers call on CPS to make a commitment to cooking by building full-size cooking kitchens in new schools and avoid replacing cooked food with frozen food. They suggest more training as well — 62% of respondents said that they want training on healthy food. Finally, they say they want CPS to encourage them to keep students and parents informed about any future concerns.
Surveys of CPS workers were conducted in December 2011. 436 lunchroom workers, who have a combined 3803 years of experience on the CPS lunch line, completed the survey.
There are 3,200 frontline lunchroom workers who prepare over 77,000 school breakfasts and 280,000 school lunches each day for the children of Chicago in over 600 schools.
UNITE HERE Local 1 represents 15,000 hospitality workers in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, including 3,200 lunchroom cafeteria workers in Chicago Public Schools.