Bessemer City Schools keeping students fed despite cafeteria worker shortage

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 10:18 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Bessemer City Schools is trying to hire more workers to help feed their students. Like many school systems, they’re experiencing a shortage of nutritional workers.

“It’s a labor shortage everywhere and what we’re finding our biggest shortage here in Bessemer City Schools is in our CNP department -- our Child Nutrition Program,” said superintendent Dr. Autumm Jeter.

She says while it’s not a major shortage, they need to hire about four cafeteria workers between Bessemer Middle School and Bessemer High School. She adds the understaffing can slow down their ability to feed the students.

“Our workers are just dedicated and they make it happen but it can cause an impact on the speed, the amount we’re able to produce at a particular time,” she explains.

They have plenty of backup plans to make sure their kids are fed, according to Dr. Jeter. Sometimes it’s all hands on deck.

“So when someone is absent or with this particular shortage, we’ll have central office individuals go fill in,” she added. “If need be, we can shift from other schools but that’s Plan C and we don’t necessarily want to have to do that.”

Fortunately, Dr. Jeter says they have enough food and are able to still cook everything in-house. She says bringing outside food to feed everyone is not allowed.

“We’re not experiencing a food shortage, we just have to make sure we follow the vendor lists that are approved and order from those individuals,” said Dr. Jeter. “If we’re waiting on a particular fruit items or meat item and it was scheduled to be served Monday or Tuesday of the following week and it’s not going to be in in time, we can adjust the menu if need be.”

Dr. Jeter says they are looking for people who love kids and love food. They are hiring full-time and even part-time or substitute CNP workers. If you’re interested in applying to join the CNP program, fill out the application here.

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