As a career food service worker and proud Shelton resident, I am writing to share some of what I have learned about my industry. I believe my perspective is relevant to our community conversation about labor standards in the Shelton Public School cafeterias.
The most important lesson for me has been that companies that provide living wages and affordable healthcare hang onto the best workers. Companies that pay poverty wages and don’t offer meaningful insurance can’t attract quality employees. I’ve had the privilege of working in the cafeteria at Sikorsky Aircraft for the past five years. I’ve chosen to finish my career at Sikorsky because my co-workers and I have achieved a living wage and affordable insurance. My longevity means that I can build relationships with our customers and advocate for them. I care deeply about providing quality service. Our school children deserve the same.
The second thing I know is that when food service companies refuse to provide affordable health insurance and paid time off for workers, they are fostering an unsafe environment. When workers don’t have access to insurance, they are more likely to be ill. And without sick days, many are forced to work while sick. This creates an environment that is neither sanitary nor productive for making quality food. Our school children deserve healthy workers.
Finally, when a company doesn’t invest in workers’ health, do we honestly believe they invest in quality ingredients? In my experience, they absolutely do not. The only people who know for sure what they are serving our children is the workers. Shelton children deserve the very best advocates.
The Board of Education needs to listen to our cafeteria workers.
The writer is a Shelton resident.