Across the country, cafeteria workers are scrambling to get safe, nutritious meals to the 30 million children who participate in the National School Lunch Program. Amid school closures, re-openings, and hybrid instruction, these low-wage workers (over 90% of whom are women) are facing even greater struggles than normal. Schools are increasingly cutting workers’ hours and purchasing higher percentages of pre-packaged foods, which further deskill and disempower workers. What if, instead, we invested in labor and local food, empowering school kitchen and cafeteria workers to cook healthy meals for all of the nation’s children? This talk explains the need for a nationwide movement in support of real food and real jobs in American public schools.
Jennifer Gaddis is an assistant professor of Civil Society and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of The Labor of Lunch: Why We Need Real Food and Real Jobs in American Public Schools(University of California Press, 2019). She received a PhD in environmental studies from Yale University in 2014. Her research on school lunch programs has appeared in numerous journals, including Agriculture and Human Values, Feminist Economics, and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, and in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and Teen Vogue. She teaches classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on community and social change, strategic planning and evaluation for nonprofits, and sustainable food systems. In her spare time, she loves to cook local veggies, garden in her back yard prairie, and watch her three silly chickens eat and play.
Sunday Platform is our most important and long-standing community event. These gatherings educate, stimulate personal growth, inspire reflection and action, and strengthen our community. Sunday meetings usually begin with music, followed by greetings and a talk given by a Society Leader, member, or guest. Platforms cover a variety of topics that reflect current events, pressing social issues, and Ethical Culture philosophy. A collection basket is passed and money is shared between the Society and a charity selected for that day. While contributions are always appreciated, Sunday meetings are free and open to the public. Each Sunday meeting is followed by a luncheon and social hour.
To view previous Sunday Platform addresses and interviews, visit the Ethical NYC YouTube channel.