Kalamazoo, MI- As small, yet visible protest could be seen as library patrons, community members and visitors In front of Kalamazoo’s downtown library. Kalamazoo Public Library’s regularly scheduledBoard meeting open to the public. The protest is over KPL Aides negotiating a living wage. Library Aides are the most visible employees of the organization. The Aides provided anything from customer service, circulation tasks, helping with program preparation among services provided.
Recent negotiations with KPL administration presented a proposal of $12/hr to KPL Aides and to go up to $12.74 for the 2024/2025 fiscal year. A echo of support shared with the Board and the audience, that the proposed wage is not a living wage or a competitive one. Additionally, the proposed wage is less than some employees are already making and would not see a raise until 2025. The newly formed union of aides and custodians are asking for a sustainable, living wage of $15.
Kalamazoo, MI- The atmosphere at Fox Ridge Apartments was calm this afternoon, as a food truck stationed near the community’s office to distribute food packs to children in the community. Still, as of 12:45, workers reported that they had handed out over 100 food packs so far, and anticipated many more before their shift would end.
With more than one-third of Kalamazoo Public Schools households living below the federal poverty line, 14% of which are experiencing “deep” poverty (at or below 50% of the poverty line), this service is essential to the wellbeing of children who rely on school breakfasts and lunches to meet their nutritional needs and would otherwise be unable to access regular meals during the Covid-19 school closures. In addition to children, food is available to any person up to age 26 who is enrolled in an educational program for the mentally or physically disabled, according to the Kalamazoo Public Schools website.
The process of handing out food packs was efficient, with no identification, proof of enrollment or family size required to collect needed items. Workers, wearing gloves while sorting crates and handling pre-packed bags, were courteous and helpful, making sure to let folks know when they would come back again.
Included in each bag, meant to provide two days’ worth of nutrition, were milk, juice, cheese, sliced apples, graham snacks, yogurt, muffins and whole grain crackers. 2-day packs will be given out on Monday and Wednesdays, and on Fridays the packs will contain 3 days’ worth, to last through the weekend.
While collecting items for my own family, several small children, clad in surgical masks, came to the truck to pick up their provisions. Cheerfully thanking the workers in the “Meet up to Eat up” van, a few even moved their masks aside to share smiles. Crisis or no, children’s joy can’t be contained!
Families with more than one or two students will want to make sure to bring reusable shopping bags or totes (or extra hands) to transport their items – take it from this mama, who hadn’t thought that through before making the trip. Lugging five kids’ worth of milk three blocks home proved challenging!
Food will be distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:30 to 12:30 at all Kalamazoo Public Schools, with the exception of
Indian Prairie, and Winchell Elementary, as well as A.L.P. and South Westnedge School. Additional sites Include Interfaith Homes and Eastside Neighborhood Association from 11:30 to noon at each, and Fox Ridge Apartments and New Village Park from 12:30 to 1:00. Any changes to this schedule will be posted on the KPS website.