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Cafeteria worker sickout in Wake County has community helping serve school meals
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Cafeteria worker sickout in Wake County has community helping serve school meals

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The Wake County school system says students didn't go hungry on Tuesday despite a sickout by school cafeteria workers at dozens of schools.

Late Monday evening, the Wake County school system alerted families at 32 schools that they should bring their own lunch on Tuesday because they couldn't guarantee meal service would be provided. But on Tuesday morning, the district tweeted that it was able to provide meals to every student who wanted one.

"Despite the CNS staff shortages at our school today, we have secured food for every student who needs a meal," Wake tweeted. "We are able to feed every child thanks to efforts by our district CNS staff, as well as other school employees who are assisting with meal distribution today."

The school district provided bagged lunches to students, according to Lisa Luten, a school spokeswoman. Luten said that parents and local businesses and restaurants also brought in food for students on Tuesday.

"Thanks also goes to the many parents and community members who have offered assistance," Wake tweeted.

The district said it's hopeful that meal service will return to normal Wednesday but said it will update the community if the situation changes.

Workers protest low pay, conditions

Some cafeteria workers called out sick to protest working conditions and low pay at a time when a 19% vacancy rate is forcing them to do more work than before. Two weeks ago, dozens of bus drivers in Wake County also called out sick for a three-day protest that disrupted bus service for many students.

The school board is hoping that a plan to approve $3,750 in additional employees bonuses will help address concerns of employees, some of whom are only making the recently raised minimum salary of $13 per hour. The state pays the base salaries of employees, with districts supplementing the pay with local funds when they can.

In the meantime, schools are trying to make sure that students who couldn't bring their own food don't go hungry. School meals are the only source of food some low-income students get on a daily basis.

In addition to school employees helping out, PTAs recruited volunteers to help serve meals Tuesday.

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