Teen Fights to Save Cafeteria Jobs

A teen with family members who work on the Cafeteria staff of a local school reached out to NBC10 as part of an effort to help save their jobs.

A local teen is doing his part to help save the jobs of cafeteria workers at the Gloucester County school he attends.

On Monday, NBC10 received the following email:

My name is Tahje Thomas. I am thirteen and go to Paulsboro High School, and last week at our board of education meeting the majority of the members voted to out-source our cafeteria staff and hire a private company to work the lunches. My grandmother,aunt, and godmother all work in the kitchen all above the age of fifty and have all worked there more than twenty years. And they all love the kids and teachers at my school. We are all devastated but we are going to fight that is why I am emailing you today. This Wednesday March 21 the board will be having another meeting to discuss the matter I really want to get the word out we need all the support we can get, I don't want to see my family lose their jobs and benefits. Thanks.

Tahje’s grandmother and Cafeteria worker Crystal Henderson was in tears when discussing her grandson’s efforts.

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“He’s just got a big heart,” said Henderson. “He’s a good boy and I know he’s worried.”

The district says the budget proposal would help them save money, which has become tight over the years. Paulsboro Superintendent Frank Scambia estimates it costs $150,000 to run the cafeteria and that hiring contract workers would save thousands of dollars.

Longtime cafeteria workers say they would miss the children they serve and lose retirement benefits if the plan goes through.

“This November coming in I’ll be there 25 years,” said Irene Riddell. “When you’re there 25 years your medical benefits are locked in. If I’m done in June then I’ll miss that mark.”

Thomas has launched a campaign to get the attention of the board with hopes of keeping his family employed. At a meeting on Wednesday night, the Superintendent discussed some alternative proposals to save jobs.

The Board of Education is expected to vote next week, followed by a public vote in April.

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