School cafeteria workers union forces church to stop giving students free pizza

SEATTLE – A school cafeteria workers union is threatening a Seattle church over free pizza that parishioners are distributing to students at three local high schools during lunch time.

Once a week for several months, youth pastor Nick Steinloski and other volunteers with Bethany Community Church in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood have delivered pizzas to students during lunch time just off campus at three high schools – Nathan Hale, Ingraham, and Rooselvelt, KOMO reports.

Church leaders received permission for the giveaway, which is possible in part because of the school have an open campus, and estimate they spend about $600 a week serving two slices each to about 250 students, Steinloski said.

“It takes about 10 minutes to get rid of 40 large pizzas,” he said. “We are not telling them a Bible story before they get pizza.”

Regardless, International Union of Operating Engineers business manager Dave Westberg contends the pizza giveaway is hurting food sales in the school cafeterias, and blasted the church in a flyer for allegedly stealing money from the school’s unionized workers.

freepizza_small School cafeteria workers union forces church to stop giving students free pizza

“Although ‘Pastor Nick’ has been reluctant to truthfully share the factual scope of this effort, the latest information is that they are serving @ 750 students a week Domino’s (high fat, empty calorie) pizza from boxes out of the trunk of a car near Ingraham, Hale and Roosevelt schools,” the union flyer read.

“These efforts inevitably lead to the working families whose jobs depend on preparing and serving Seattle’s students inside public schools being negatively impacted. That means a number of families will potentially lose health benefits and (ultimately) the basic income that supports them.”

The union letter also mocks the chuck with the question “What God hurts innocent people?” in all-caps, bold letters across both the top and the bottom of the flyer.

Steinloski told KOMO the union also called and left a message on the church’s answering machine.

“Last week we got a call from a union,” he said. “They said we were taking away a job, hours from employees at school in the kitchens because kids weren’t buying lunch.”