Gloria Murrietta, Food Service Worker, Los Angeles Unified School District
Gloria Murrietta doesn’t want to hear it. Don’t talk to her about being worried or scared about the pandemic. Of course, she’s concerned, she says. She sees worry in the faces of the hundreds of children and families who come to Dorsey High School’s grab-and-go meal program every day. But worry is not what we need now. When she goes to work each day, Gloria is focused on making sure that everyone receives their meals with joy. “I just want them to be loved. To eat good,” she says. “We don’t know what their circumstances are. They need nutrition to do their work, to be successful.”
Gloria’s fighting spirit comes from a life that has seen its share of challenges. COVID-19 is just another hurdle to overcome. She says she never really knew her parents and was raised by her grandmother in Arizona. Gloria herself raised nine children as a single mom. And, recently, her former husband of 16-years died of cancer in the midst of this crisis. Life can be difficult, she says, but it’s also full of love and generosity and hope.
And that’s the message Gloria has always shared with the students who’ve come through her lunch line during her 14-year career as a Food Service Worker with the Los Angeles Unified School District. It’s a message that’s even more necessary now. “These kids need love so they can endure.”
For Gloria, love comes in doing the hard work of serving-up meals.” Once we get in at 6 in the morning, it’s time to get moving. We have to do 84 trays. That’s 2600 meals. By 7:20 am, we have the first part done.” In just one week of the grab-and-go program at Dorsey, Gloria saw the need increase from 500 to 3000 meals daily.
“It’s such a gift to be able to do it, to make sure people have food. It’s not a good feeling to be hungry.” But Gloria knows that it’s not just cereal and sandwiches and fruit that get served each day. “I want the kids to know that we’re going to get back to school. Don’t lose your fight. We’re going to be ok.”