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Collaboration Helps Bring Food Service Workers to Monarch School

Thanks to the collaboration of several SDCOE teams, Monarch School could have three new food services employees who are family members of students there.

Employees from Human Resource Services, Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS), Risk Management, and the school – which serves students from families that are experiencing homelessness – put their heads together to create a job and volunteer fair for food service workers in February because there weren’t enough people applying for the positions.

“This was an amazing event,” Principal Dyane Plumly said.

Seven family members of Monarch School students received help to complete recruitment documents at the event. They then had their fingerprints taken and got tested for tuberculosis. Four also attended a course to get a food handler certificate.

“Applicants were provided with a one-stop shop to complete the application and fingerprinting process to become food service workers, including substitutes and volunteers,” said Carol Tomeo, a director in Human Resource Services. “The event was so successful, we are considering the process for other job classifications of which we are in high need.”

The JCCS food services team operates the kitchen at Monarch School. When employee shortages started to become a problem during the pandemic, some other members of the team stepped in to help, which wasn’t sustainable, said Jerry Smith, JCCS food service program supervisor.

“We were not getting applicants for our open positions so we reached out to Human Resource Services to see if they could help, and the job fair was created,” Smith explained. “This was a win-win for all of us, and I am happy to say that we are already training staff.”

Some of the employees that helped make the event a success were Tomeo, Elva Uribe, Allie Figueroa, Jose Lopez, and Javier Carbajal from Human Resource Services; Smith from JCCS; Michael Czoberek from Risk Management, and Plumly, principal of Monarch School.

Czoberek was able to provide the food handler training as he is certified by the County of San Diego to issue food handler cards. Risk Management offers this service to members of its joint powers authority to allow their employees to receive or renew their food handler cards without having to travel to the county’s training facilities.

And of course, at the end of the day, the people who benefit the most from having qualified people in these important positions are the students.

“Monarch School is a partnership where we all want the best for the students, and the kitchen plays a big part in that,” Smith said.

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Students pose for a picture after presenting to peers about tuberculosis.

For students at San Diego High School, a campaign to educate their peers about tuberculosis became a powerful lesson in advocacy and empowerment. The project was part of a collaboration between the San Diego County Office of Education’s (SDCOE) Work-Based Learning team and the county Health and Human Services Agency Public Health Services Tuberculosis Control and Refugee Health Branch.