Pomona College has entered into a partnership with UNITE HERE Local 11 and the Hospitality Training Academy to provide meals for people in the surrounding area who have been forced to remain at home thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to an email sent to the student body earlier today, “Pomona College will be providing meals to over 180 seniors in the areas of Pomona, San Dimas and Chino who have indicated to Los Angeles County that they cannot leave their homes to purchase food.” The move will bring back a portion of furloughed dining hall staff members.
Per the email, “[a] portion of [Pomona’s] dining staff will return to campus on a limited basis this week for training and will work through Dec. 31 to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner to these seniors. [Pomona] dining staff involved in this program will be brought back to campus part time and will be paid their regular wages. [Pomona] dining staff will prepare and cook food, and package it in labeled microwavable containers, which will be boxed and picked up twice weekly for delivery directly to the homes of these seniors by taxicab, Uber and other drivers as arranged by HTA.” Previously, many of these staff members had been furloughed as a result of a $37 million budget shortfall caused by the current pandemic, a move which drew criticism from student activists and faculty members alike.
In keeping with current health regulations, “returning dining staff will work in a tightly controlled ‘bubble’ of two teams. [Pomona’s] partners at Hamilton Health Box will regularly test each returning employee for COVID-19 (testing has already begun) and the staff will follow strict health and safety guidelines and protocols.”
One of Pomona’s partners, UNITE HERE Local 11, “is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international labor union that represents 270,000 working people across North America.” According to its website, “members in the U.S. and Canada work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries.” The organization represents over 30,000 workers employed in a wide variety of fields, including restaurants, hotels, and sports arenas.In the email, Pomona stated that it is currently “working with HHB to develop a broader plan to regularly test staff who are required to work on campus for COVID-19. [The college] will outline the details of [its] testing strategy in the coming days.” Last week, Pomona released a comprehensive list of guidelines for a potential return to campus in which the college stated that “[a]ll students will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival followed by a quarantined period on campus. Following the initial quarantine, students will be subjected to surveillance testing.” The plan included no provisions for staff or faculty testing in the event of an on-campus spring semester.