Sign up For DC 37 News


Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

DC 37 News

Local 372 Kitchen Confidential

Photos by James McCray, Hy Sync Media
Local 372 President Shaun D. Francois I (center, back row) toured the kitchen of I.S. 238 Susan B. Anthony School, in Queens.

Tweens — adolescents between the ages of 10 and 13 — can be finicky, persnickety eaters. And no one knows this better than the 16 Local 372 members who start before dawn preparing breakfasts and lunches for 1,630 middle schoolers every school day in I.S. 238’s spotless, onsite kitchen.

“Children can’t learn if they’re hungry. Our members take extra care to make sure the food is appetizing and something children will want to eat,” said Local 372 President Shaun D. Francois I.

With 86 percent of the students at I.S. 238 eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, nearly the entire school depends on Local 372 members for meals.

Hardworking Local 372 members prepare healthy meals for the
more than 1,600 students attending the school.

In November, Francois toured the school lunchroom with City Council member I. Daneek Miller, who represents the Queens neighborhoods of Hollis, Laurelton, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, and St. Albans.

I.S. 238 outpaces the New York State average of 49 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch, a report by revealed. In the Queens district, 72 percent of students are eligible for the federal school lunch program.

The union leaders and city officials took time to chat with Local 372 lunchroom aides, cooks, and other kitchen workers employed by the city Dept. of Education.

Kitchen workers prepare a wide selection of fresh and colorful whole foods for balanced meals that appeal to the eyes and tastes of children.

“For eight years we had First Lady Michelle Obama promoting healthier eating and exercise,” noted Francois. “Mrs. Obama influenced a generation of youngsters her daughters’ ages and younger. I believe that because of her, kids today are more willing to try different foods and form better eating habits that will follow them through life.”