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Survey Reveals Food Waste, Safety Concerns Inside Philadelphia School Lunchrooms

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(A school cafeteria.  File photo by Jeff Pachoud/ AFP/ Getty Images)

(A school cafeteria. File photo by Jeff Pachoud/ AFP/ Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Just days after the so-called “doomsday budget” was approved (see previous story), a new report is shedding light on the state of lunchrooms inside Philadelphia’s public schools.

The report, entitled “Inside the Lunchroom: Workers’ Vision For Real Food and Safe Schools,” identifies solutions for improving kids’ days at schools. It’s based on a survey of 434 Philadelphia School District cafeteria workers and student safety staff conducted by the union that supports them.

Two areas of concern pertaining to the lunchroom emerge, according to the survey results.

The first is safety. Forty-percent of workers surveyed indicated they’d witnessed a violent incident where there were not enough student safety staff present to address the situation. Additionally, 35% said they witness violence every year where there is not enough staff present. That could worsen, as the budget for 2014 threatens to eliminate all safety staff, known as “noon-time aides.”

The second area of concern is about the food served in school cafeterias. Sixty-four percent of respondents said at least half the food served is being thrown away. Currently, lunch is prepared in full-service kitchens or “satellite” kitchens, where the food is frozen and is heated up by workers. Seventy-eight percent of workers surveyed believe students enjoy fresh food more than frozen.

School safety and food workers are planning a rally at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5 at 440 N Broad Street to highlight these issues and call for more input and better training in decisions that affect the welfare of school children.

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