Perry Township school cafeteria seeks help to feed students

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Staffing shortages are affecting not only businesses, but government also, including the schools.

Some districts are concerned about how they can feed their students and provide access to food in the upcoming school year.

With a staffing shortage, Perry Township Schools officials want to make sure all their students are fed and have access to food, and they think they have the answer to make this happen.

Erin Coleman, the director of child nutrition and food services at Perry Township Schools, said, “Meal costs are going up, so, you know, eating at school, school meals are still the most-affordable option.”

On Wednesday, the school district hosted a hiring fair to fill in around 25 child-nutrition positions. They hired nearly a dozen high school students to help staff their cafeterias in the 2021-2022 school year, but it was not enough. The district still needed more support.

Coleman said that it was the “first time that we’ve hired students.

“The type of students that work for us, not many of them would leave during the day to go work jobs, so we thought, ‘Hey, what a better way for them to get involved? They can work for us. They can gain that professional experience and having set hours.’ So it was a great opportunity for both us and our students to utilize our expertise together.”

Because so many workers were needed in the cafeteria, school administrators also had to help out. Coleman said, “It’s been challenging. Everyone is putting forth so much effort. They truly care, but it is a lot of work and we’re hoping that having this job fair and filling in those gaps will help us get back to a more normal staffing year.”

The school district is offering a starting rate of $15 per hour for child-nutrition workers. Officials hope the salary increase will help.

“We like to rotate staff, so you will be preparing food, serving food to the students. We have cashiers. So, it gives a lot of variety. So, we’re looking to fill that general child-nutrition role,” Coleman said.

At the hiring event, applicants spoke with staff, and even got a tour at the Southport 6th Grade Academy cafeteria.

“We know that it is our job and our passion to do whatever it takes to be able to provide them with healthy, nutritious and delicious meals,” Coleman said.

The school district offers flexible, weekday hours for child-nutrition workers. People can learn more at 317-789-3745.