UNITE HERE Cooks Help Seniors in Need

A week after Mayor Eric Garcetti announced  that the City of Los Angeles has contracted with the Serving Our Community initiative, dozens of cooks at the University of Southern California and proud UNITE HERE Local 11 members have returned to work to prepare and package meals for low-income, housebound, and isolated seniors.

“I am so happy to be back to work and help provide this service for seniors in need during this crisis,” said Marisa Arellano, a cook at USC.

More than 7,600 meals for 700 seniors will be prepared this week at the University of Southern California.  The effort will ramp up in coming days, with Levy at the Los Angeles Convention Center, JW Marriott/Ritz Carlton at LA LIVE, and the Westin Bonaventure coming on line.  Together, over the course of the week these locations will prepare more than 33,000 meals for 2,850 seniors.

“Our members are trained professionals, and we see this as an opportunity to use the massive kitchens that our employers have and put them to good use,” said Susan Minato, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11 and Chair of the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA). “Our members are proud to share their skills and take proper and safe care of the public in need, much like they take care of guests in the good times.”

Serving our Community is a win-win for the state and for the region; tourism is one of the largest industries in Southern California. Putting people back to work is the first step to bring back the economy of the region,” Minato added.

“We run trainings with culinary and cleaning staff on additional protocols with special COVID-19 disinfection training,” said Adine Forman, Executive Director of the HTA. “It is critical now, more than ever, to ensure that anyone preparing food for our most vulnerable can do it in a way that keeps themselves and the people they are serving healthy and safe, including daily temperature checks and completing questionnaires for all staff in the kitchen.”

Serving Our Community is an initiative launched by the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA), UNITE HERE Local 11, the hospitality workers’ union, and many of its employers. The Hospitality Training Academy and UNITE HERE Local 11 partnership received a Master Service Contract with the State of California for Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Bernardino County.

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