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Cafeteria crunch time

September 04, 2007

Re "One step forward. . . ," editorial, Aug. 30

The editorial implies that the "new school board" voted unanimously in favor of health benefits for 2,000 part-time cafeteria workers. In fact, I joined my colleague Marlene Canter in opposing the measure. At this late date, approving $35 million in new benefits will wreak havoc on the Los Angeles Unified School District's budget for 2007-08.

I am concerned that this action will have a negative effect on our children's education and lead to more layoffs of district employees. The measure does not do anything to help our kids get high-quality, nutritious food, nor does it give them sufficient time to properly eat and digest their meals. While it's a national tragedy that millions of Americans do not have health insurance, this is no way to address the problem.

I share all board members' commitment to improve the quality of public education in Los Angeles. When I believe the board is acting in a manner contrary to that goal, I will cast my vote accordingly.

Tamar Galatzan

Los Angeles

The writer represents District 3 on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.

I am a cafeteria worker at University High School in Los Angeles. Under current district policies, it is impossible to move 2,000 kids (let alone the 4,000 at some schools) through a lunch line in 30 minutes. The school board made a smart decision to increase the minimum work shift for cafeteria workers.

I invite your editorial board to join me during lunch so that you can see for yourself why the board made the right decision. Watch what happens when the lunch bell rings and thousands of kids sprint to the cafeteria to be first in line so they can get a meal. Come talk to students about the fact that they stand in line for 25 minutes but only have five minutes to eat, or have to buy a candy bar from the vending machine. This decision will increase the number of kids who eat lunch every day, which will only help their performance in the classroom. The board should be commended for its decision.

Cathy Zamarripa


School cafeteria workers are some of the hardest workers at any school. For years, they have had their hours kept just short enough so that they could not qualify for health benefits. The Times shows callous disregard by the attitude that cafeteria workers are not worthy of the most basic of human needs.

This is not about union bosses. It's about people who work hard and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Linda Sutton

Los Angeles

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