BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor School Department is still working to hire more cafeteria workers ahead of the first day of school next week.
Noelle Scott, Food Service Director at James F. Doughty School, said a number of the school kitchens are short-staffed and have been for years. The pandemic turned the situation from bad to worse.
Some of the schools are looking for food service workers and lunch aids. Food service workers typically work 3 to 3.5-hour shifts preparing and serving food, cleaning up, filling out paperwork, and ordering ingredients. Lunch aids work around 1.5 to 2-hour shifts, helping children open milk cartons, cleaning tables, and helping out with recess duties.
“The hours are generally great for parents because it's in the middle of the day, and there aren't any evening hours or weekend hours," Scott said.
The school system is offering minimum wage for both the food service and lunch aid positions. Sharon Belanger has worked as a food service specialist for the last five years at James F. Doughty School. She said the reason the schools may be struggling to hire more workers is that the wages being offered are lower than some other businesses in the area that are currently hiring.
At 70 years old, she is the caretaker for her granddaughter and said she needs to work three jobs to be able to provide for her.
James Tager, Superintendent of Bangor Schools, said in a statement:
"Food service is an important part of the Bangor School Department. Many students across the city rely on them for quality meals and proper nutrition as it is necessary for developing minds. The Bangor School Department is currently in contract negotiations for a new three-year contract with food service employees. Negotiations started over the summer and we hope to find a mutual agreement soon."
The food service employees said they are also hoping to be able to reach an agreement.
If you're interested in applying for any of the open positions in the Bangor School Department, click here.