State Superintendent Candidate Senator Gloria Romero “Walks a Day in the Shoes” of Cafeteria Worker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Terry Carter, Spokesperson
213-700-5617 | tcarter@seiu99.org
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Los Angeles Unified School District classified employees, including South Gate Middle School cafeteria worker Gloria Lua, want to make sure State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Senator Gloria Romero understands the importance of their contribution to good public schools. The best way was to let her roll up her sleeves and see firsthand, working a shift with Gloria preparing food, washing dishes, and sweeping and mopping the lunchrooms.

“We used to make 13 items per day. More recently, we gave the kids a choice of 7 items. Now, due to the budget cuts, we’re only serving 3 items,” explains Gloria. “And just last month we lost 5 cafeteria workers. Every day, there are a handful of kids who wait in the lunch line and get turned away because the lines are too long.” Many children see the long lines and don’t even bother getting lunch, instead buying chips and sweets.

Gloria and her co-workers are giving Senator Romero a chance to experience what it’s like trying to prepare food and get as many kids through the long lunch lines as possible. Currently, due to staff cuts and lack of food choices for the children, about 1/3 of the middle school students aren’t eating a meal. An additional lunch cart at the other end of campus used to ensure that more students were fed. Half of the campus custodial staff was cut at the beginning of the year, however, so the cart was eliminated due to the lack of staff to clean up after lunch.

The State Superintendent makes decisions about the public school system, including cleanliness, campus safety, and the quality of school meals. Gloria and other District food service staff are asking candidates for State Superintendent to use their campaign platforms to advocate for better education funding, including funding for good school food that children need to be successful—and the good jobs necessary to provide that food. Massive state budget cuts have forced the Los Angeles Unified School District to eliminate more than 100 food service positions this school year. The Governor’s recent budget proposal cuts nearly $2.5 billion more from our schools, which could force further District cuts.

“Education is the key to the American Dream, and that dream is delivered on a daily basis by dedicated employees at South Gate Middle School. I am honored to accept the invitation of SEIU to ‘walk in the shoes’ of SEIU members who provide critical support services for our school children,” says Senator Romero. “This experience will enable me to better understand the challenges we face in grappling with California’s budget crisis and that the budget cannot be balanced on the backs of those we most depend upon to serve food to our children, clean the bathrooms, and maintain a safe and secure campus.”

This is part of a series of “Walk a Day in My Shoes” events inviting all the leading State Superintendent candidates to learn firsthand the impact of budget cuts on student services and classified employees. Candidates must part participate in a “Walk a Day in My Shoes” event to be considered for endorsement by workers represented by SEIU.

SEIU Local 99 is a union of more than 43,000 dedicated education workers who guide our children from preschool and kindergarten, through grade school, high school, and at community colleges. We are teachers, paraeducators, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, first responders, and others working in schools, colleges, and administrative offices throughout Southern California. We are part of SEIU International, the fastest-growing union in North America with 2.1 million members.

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