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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Local 420 member charts her path through Dietary Fund Program


Evelyn Ross worked at the New York City Health+Hospitals Cook Chill plant in Brooklyn for a decade when she enrolled in the dietary management program with help from her local union and the DC 37 Education Fund.

“I always wanted to go to back to school and move up the career ladder,” said Ross, a member of New York City Hospital Employees Local 420.

Ross worked 30 hours a week as a Cook Chill Service Aide, prepping food for NYC H+H’s 16 hospitals and long-term care facilities. At night, she attended classes at the dietary program at Metropolitan Hospital. After about 18 months, Ross graduated in 2019 with a certificate in Dietary Management. She transferred to Coler Nursing and Rehab facility’s food services.

“I had great instructors from Long Island Community College,” Ross said. “No one can ever take away the knowledge I’ve gained.”

The Dietary Fund is an agreement between DC 37, NYC H+H, and all unions whose members work in the NYC H+H dietary departments that Sodexo manages. It provides participants with educational opportunities and $2,000 a year in financial aid toward a degree or certification in any discipline, including dietary management or nursing. Eligible DC 37 members also can apply for the Ed Fund’s tuition reimbursement benefit, which is about $915 a year.

“Working with Local 420 and other unions that represent NYC H+H staff, the Education Fund is dedicated to making sure our members working in dietary can take advantage of the Fund to pursue their academic and career goals,” said DC 37 Ed Fund Administrator Stephen Johnson.

Ross said of her journey, “Although I put in the work and got my certificate, job opportunities in dietary management didn’t come my way, so I took civil service tests. My rep Sallie Stallings kept pushing me and encouraging me.”

In January, Ross became a Metropolitan Hospital Police Officer. She completes 12 weeks of training in April. An excited Ross said she can walk to her new job.

“Belonging to a union has provided me with so much,” she said. “I have health benefits like dental and vision, legal help, and it paid for school. I have had three jobs at H+H, opportunities that I would not have had if I didn’t belong to the union.”

“We are very proud of Evelyn Ross and congratulate all our members who participate in the Dietary Fund educational program,” said Local 420 President Carmen Charles.