The Warrick County School Corporation recently approved an annual raise for cafeteria managers.
The salary increase includes a yearly bump of $976 to $3,000, affecting more than 16 cafeteria managers across the primary and secondary schools throughout the county.
The pay raise is in part due to the efforts of WCSC food and nutrition director, Shenae Rowe.
"I have been in this position for 16 years and the job of cafeteria manager has changed dramatically over the last decade, especially with the new Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, which requires more nutrition training," she said. "From customer service to food allergy management, they take it on and do it well."
Rowe said the cafeteria managers work much harder than people may realize.
"The responsibility is just so great and we felt like there needed to be a pay increase to compensate them," she said, "and stay competitive in the market to keep good employees."
Four different levels of raises are being implemented for the cafeteria managers, ranging from a four to 14 percent increase.
"[...] based on the size of school and level of school, although they all do similar work," Rowe said. "And for the schools with a 14 percent raise, we did add 15 minutes
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to their work day, so that's why they have a higher increase."
Rowe said although the school system approved the raises, it did not provide additional funding.
"All food and nutrition departments in schools are self supporting, self funding and do not receive money from school corp.," Rowe said. "So all funds come out of the food and nutrition labor budget, which is a $2.5 million budget a year. And we also raise money from the school meals, so it's important that we do charge for meals."
The food and nutrition department also receives a certain dollar amount from the USDA based on each meal it serves.
"It's like having 16 restaurants that we have to fund to make them financially effective," Rowe said. "And make sure that the kids still get the proper nutrition they need."
Rowe was able to re-work her budget around so that she could allocate $33,449.35 specifically to go toward the salary increase.
"Being a cafeteria manager becomes an under-appreciated job, so I am grateful for the money they are able to get," she said. "Money doesn't take away from stress of job, but it helps to compensate them, and our ladies deserve so much."