Lunch Ladies

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A century ago, cafeteria workers were on the front lines of providing school children the nutrition they needed to become better students, citizens and soldiers. Today, many are rewarded with poverty-level wages in return for reheating bagged burritos. Cristen and Caroline trace the history of lunch ladies as part of the nutrition, labor and Civil Rights movements.

Episode Sources:

"Why lunch ladies are heroes"

"The food system""

"How it all began ... The history of the lunch lady"

"Food timeline FAQs: School Lunches"

"An overlooked history"

"Interview with Elizabeth Brooks"

"Interview with Ashley Davis"

"Lunchroom justice: Students push for cafeteria workers' rights"

"Revenge of the lunch ladies""

"The lunchroom rebellion""

"Berkeley schools' Ann Cooper to take her lunch lessons to Colorado"

"Summertime, and the kids go hungry: The school lunch problem"

"'We're not paid enough': Cafeteria workers at Walt Disney World say they want a union"

"Cafeteria workers go on hunger strike at U of T"

"Senate cafeteria workers owed $1 million in back pay, Labor Department says"

Academic Insights:

"Glee and New Directions for Social Change." Brian C. Johnson and Daniel K. Faill. Springer. 2015.

"Labor standards for school cafeteria workers, turnover and public program utilization." Ken Jacobs and Dave Graham-Squire. Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law. Vol. 31, Iss. 2. September 2010.