East Syracuse-Minoa Central School District has bid its lunch services out to food service company Chartwells, according to a district news release. The district claims that the move will save them $300,000 in annual operation costs, starting with the 2013-2014 school year.
The district confirms that this may cost up to 25 jobs.
The group of women who met with CNYCentral's Dora Scheidell Tuesday night, say they're more than lunch ladies, they're mothers. Sharon Visser has worked as a food service employee with the ESM school district for 13 years.
"My children went through the district, my husband went through the district, his parents went through the district. I'm a third generation lunch lady in our family," says Visser.
Linda Canorro, who's also worked with the school district for 13 years, says she supports the children and comforts them like they were her own.
"Especially coming through the line at middle school. There's bullying and there's a lot of kids that are hurting. They come to us. They come to me," says Canorro.
Sharon Kauffman who's worked as a food service employee for 15 years says it's disappointing because she's also a taxpayer in the district.
"This has been my home. I've lived in the district for 29 years. I'm just very disappointed," says Kauffman.
CNYCentral spoke with the new food service provider, Chartwells. They weren't able to speak about any details because they're still in contract negotiations, but said they plan to interview all food service employees who want to apply.
In a statement, the ESM school district says,"there will be an impact on personnel and we are continuing to work with the union on the issues relating to the change in the method of service delivery. Twenty-five people are employed through the current program, all but one of whom work 3-5 hours per day, 10 months of the year."
The way it was handled by the district is what upsets the women the most.
"In the 13 years I've worked here I've never seen a secret kept so well in this district," says Visser.
"I was horrified. I'm upset that they thought so little of us that they still haven't told us anything," says Kauffman.
The school district signed a 1-year contract with Chartwells, with a total cost of $759,588.39.
The district says they will work with Chartwells to make sure the guidelines of the Child Nutrition Program are followed. Parents in the ESM School District will get more information on the transition before the start of the school year.