In December 2011, Chicago Public School lunch ladies were (finally!) surveyed about their opinions on school lunches by their union (Source: Real Food, Real Jobs). The report releases today. Let’s recap who Chicago’s lunch ladies are:
We are the 3,200 frontline workers who prepare over 77,000 school breakfasts and 280,000 school lunches each day for the children of Chicago in over 600 schools. We are also the grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, and fathers of thousands of Chicago Public School students.
Here’s what they had to say:
75% of those surveyed reported not having any input on the new recipes and food
- Who knows better than the lunch ladies, right? I also bet that not getting a chance to share your thoughts about the food would be pretty disenfranchising — the opposite of empowering.
42% of those surveyed felt students are eating the new food
- Way lower than previous reporting by the Chicago Tribune
50% of those surveyed reported rarely or never seeing school principals eating school lunch
- I’m in my sixth year working for Chicago Public Schools and although I don’t monitor any of my principals’ daily movements in the school, I have never seen a principal eating school lunch
73% of those surveyed thought food at cooking schools was superior to frozen food schools.
- Makes sense to me.
62% of those surveyed want more training about healthy food
- Let’s get lunch ladies the training they want and need to make our schools healthier.
And what do lunch ladies want? Here’s their vision as laid out in the report:
- Actively solicit and incorporate their input in school food improvement.
- Make a commitment to cooking, which means CPS must agree to: a) Avoid replacing cooked food with frozen food b)Build full-size cooking kitchens in all new schools.
- Help lunch ladies reach their full potential as caretakers — they want comprehensive training on cooking, serving and eating healthy food.
- Encourage lunch ladies to keep students and parents informed if they believe there is a problem with food quality or safety in the cafeterias.
The lunch ladies have spoken (Source: Real Food, Real Jobs). Now let’s hope that the people in power are listening.