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D60 food workers fearing for future with talks of new nutrition services provider

D60 Foodworks has started a petition on their Facebook page regarding the district's interest in other providers.
Posted at 7:18 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 20:24:31-05

PUEBLO — Some employees in District 60 are concerned for the future of their jobs, and their students, after the district announced that they are exploring new options to outsource a food provider.

This statement, not published on the district's website was emailed to all D60 staff member if February 18, 2021:

Employees with the current provider, D60 Foodworks, immediately grew concerned.

"They are concerned about their jobs, but they're more concerned about what the effects are going to be on their community and the kids as a whole," said Sheri Hattan, AFSCME Council 18 Representative For Pueblo AFSCME Locals. D60 Foodworks is part of a union and receiving support from other unions all across Pueblo.

"Unions here don't just lay down and take it, so we're going to fight for us and fight for these guys," said Hattan.

If the district were to choose a different provider, the current employees could potentially face pay cuts, lose retirement benefits, or lose their jobs all together if a new company chose not to keep them on board. However, the district says "in the event that we were to move forward with an external management partner, part of the district's formal request process would be that they retain as many of our employees as possible."

The district originally confirmed with News5 that the potential transition is not a result of budget cuts, but later said it is too early in the process to know for sure if the budget will or will not play a role in their decision. Still, the union is confused as to why the district is considering a change.

"It's not a financial issue, it's not a poor quality of work issue, it's not a quality of work issue," said Hattan.

However, the district says this is simply routine, saying "Part of our job as a school district we periodically will put out requests for proposals for some of our major service contracts and really, that's the phase we're in right now, but no decisions have been made."

District 60 says that none of the free meal services mandated federally will interfered with, even if a new provider steps in. Meanwhile, D60 Foodworks is concerned about their supper programs and summer lunch program, saying that the district was "unsure" what would happen to these if management changes.