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5 coronavirus things: Dining hall workers ask for hazard pay

This and a university housing homeless on its campus are some of the stories you may have missed recently regarding the COVID-19 crisis.

In this special edition of 5 Things, Food Management highlights five things you may have missed recently about developments regarding coronavirus and its impact on onsite dining.

Here’s your list for today:

  1. Dining hall workers ask for hazard pay

With 85% of its workers laid off, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell’s dining hall and cafe workers have created a petition asking for the university to commit to guaranteeing full pay for hours lost due to the closing of the campus, and that the remaining 15% of workers receive hazard pay. The latter is an issue that has not been widely discussed but may become more prominent wherever dining workers remain on duty and risk infection by the coronavirus.

“We believe that we, the workers in your dining halls and cafes, should not bear any additional financial burdens during this crisis,” said the petition posted to by the New England Joint Board (NEJB). “Our personal budgets cannot handle this disruption to our earnings. We are urging the university to commit to guaranteeing us full pay for our lost hours of work for the duration of the normal academic semester.”

Read more: Dining hall workers ask UMass Lowell to support its family by providing hazard pay and compensation for lost hours

  1. University to house homeless

With students taking classes remotely, Transylvania University (TU) in Kentucky has offered its practice gym, showers and locker rooms at the Clive M. Beck Center as a temporary shelter for the homeless from Lexington’s Hope Center. The university’s dining partner, Bon Appetit Management Company, will be providing meals.

“That’s important to us as well because they’ve been able to bring some of their employees back on to provide that food service,” says Megan Moloney, Vice President of Communications for the university.

TU and the shelter have a long relationship. “Our students regularly go to the Hope Center to volunteer and so this was an opportunity for us, when they asked for space, to give them space that they very much needed,” Moloney says.

Read more: Transylvania University to House the Homeless During Pandemic

  1. Cafeteria on wheels to deliver meals around Fresno

The Food Express Bus, a cafeteria on wheels, will be making stops across Fresno starting April 6 to deliver healthy meals to kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, started in 2019 by the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission (Fresno EOC) using a renovated school bus, will continue operating until emergency pandemic orders are lifted.

The meals delivered by the Food Express Bus will be available for families to grab and go with no documentation or registration required and kids do not need to be present to receive the meals.

The meals are prepared and provided by Fresno EOC Food Services and consist of two ounces of protein, two servings of fruit/vegetables, one serving of bread and eight ounces of milk.

Read more: The Food Express Bus mobile cafeteria set to deliver meals to Fresno kids during COVID-19 pandemic

  1. Penn agrees to pay contract dining workers through May 15

The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) has agreed to pay laid-off dining workers employed by Bon Appétit Management Company through May 15 following a grassroots campaign that had urged the university to compensate the workers. 

Bon Appétit had previously planned to lay off approximately 140 workers in the retail dining cafes and Falk Dining Commons without pay at the end of March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, students organized a petition, garnering over 8,000 signatures, that called on the university and Bon Appétit to ensure that the workers continue to be paid.

The university has already guaranteed salary and benefits for full-time residential dining staff, who are employed by the university and not Bon Appétit, through the remainder of the semester.

Read more: After widespread backlash, Penn will pay laid-off Bon Appétit workers through May 15

  1. Video shows Amazon warehouse workers “packed together” in cafeteria

A video taken March 18 shows workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York City packed together in the company’s cafeteria as the coronavirus epidemic intensified and two days after the company had sent a text to employees stating that it would implement new social distancing measures.

Amazon says things have changed since those videos were taken, with social distancing of three feet in the break room beginning on the day the video is said to have been taken, and later increased to six feet.

Read more: Video Shows Amazon Workers Packed Into Cafeteria Less Than 2 Weeks Ago

Bonus: Healthcare system adapts to coronavirus disruptions with reworked menus, take-home meals and meal kits

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

TAGS: Coronavirus
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