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Union repping NYC schools kitchen staff blasts hot temperatures, calls for better cooling system


City school kitchens are so hot the staff is frying faster than the food, according to workers who say they’re sweltering in extreme temps.

The smothering heat is due to poor ventilation and faulty cooling equipment, says the union that reps the kitchen staff.

“The conditions are just unbearable,” said Donald Nesbitt, vice president of DC 37 Local 372.

“Some of the buildings are 100 years old, the electricity is antiquated. You add the fact we have to cook with multiple ovens. Everything around it is just hot," he said.

Nesbit, who worked as a cook in school kitchens for 17 years, said temperatures can rise above 100 degrees in the hottest parts of the cafeteria facilities.

City Council Member and Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger (D – Brooklyn) introduced a resolution this week calling on the city Education Department to install air conditioners in all school kitchens.

“I think this is a public health and quality of life issue,” said Treyger, noting that the city’s 5-year school capital plan includes a pledge to install air conditioners in every classroom, but doesn’t mention school kitchens.

Treyger said the sky-high temperatures often force kitchen workers to crack windows, which can lead to markdowns on grades from city health inspectors.

School kitchens prepare close to one million meals every day. Nesbit said there have been pushes in the state legislature to mandate cooler temperatures in school kitchens, but the problem persists.

New buildings with central air conditioning have largely solved the heat problem, but older buildings still create heat traps, he said. Outdated electrical wiring often can’t accommodate the air conditioners, and metal fans just recirculate hot air, Nesbit said.

Education Department spokeswoman Miranda Barbot said the workers’ concerns were heard.

“All DOE staff deserve safe and comfortable working conditions, and we’ll take a closer look at this issue,” she said.