Teachers back food service staff

The Trumbull Education Association has come to understand that the Board of Education is contemplating replacing the food services department which currently prepares and serves breakfast and lunches to TPS staff and students. This letter is to communicate that the TEA and teachers in the school system support the current food services staff in our schools and would be opposed to any plan to replace the current non-profit, self-sustaining operation with a for-profit food service management company.

We have worked alongside members of the current staff for years and consider them to be a part of our school community. In that time we have seen the food services department offerings expand to meet the needs of our school community including vegetarian and gluten-free options. The nutritional value of the lunches has increased while maintaining high standards of freshness and remaining delicious with options including fresh soups, salads, and made to order deli sandwiches.

The current food services department staff go beyond the normal expectations of the work that they do planning, preparing and serving staff and students. They look out for students and know them by name - especially our special needs students. When some of these students' lunch accounts get low, they communicate with the teachers and para-educators to make sure that these students always have what they need. They also go beyond what is expected by creating special treats for students during special times of the year. They look out for the needs of the staff, providing us with coffee on days where we need a special pick-me-up.

These little moments of unexpected kindness speak to the bond that the current food service staff has with the school community; it would be a shame to lose that fliexibility if the BOE moved to a for profit food service management company.

It is unclear what prompted the inquiry into alternative services. The current food service department is a financially self-sufficient entity; the kitchen is high quality and nutritious; the current staff are friendly, attentive, and are long-serving members of our school community. Without a feasibility study or further review by a committee of current stakeholders including parents, teachers, and students to research the benefits of moving from a non-profit entity to a for profit food services management company, it is unclear what the district would gain by switching services, but it is very clear that we stand to lose the personal attention and flexibility of the current staff. The teachers of Trumbull urge the board to reconsider any plan to replace the current food service department.

Trumbull Education Association

Submitted by Matt Bracksieck, past vice president