TURNER — Tripp Middle School kitchen staff wrote a letter to the Maine School Administrative District 52 Board of Directors on Thursday requesting “desperately” needed renovations to their facility.

“You are all aware we have no cooktop, right?” Assistant Superintendent Theresa Gillis read during public comment. “We boil water in the microwave. We have no walk-in freezer for storage and typically have our milk hauled down from the high school because of lack of space. We don’t have an electric can opener, because every time we plug something in we blow a fuse, so we have three manual can openers that we use to open one can.”

Kitchens in every other school in the district have a walk-in freezer for storage, they wrote.

The letter added that kitchen staff open their buckets with plyers and a screw driver and have only one storage closet for dry goods, which they said is “impractical” for the amount of items they have.

The middle school has the highest rate of meal participation in the district, according to the letter. Kitchen staff typically serve more than 200 students at breakfast and lunch each day and send nearly 60 dinners home.

Originally, staff were hoping to show board members the kitchen in person because the meeting was scheduled to be held at Tripp Middle School. Due to inclement weather, the meeting was held over Zoom.

“I know that this has been brought up to you and board members many times, and every time we have been told it is not needed, but I beg to differ,” Gillis read. “With the amount of funding this district has received from COVID-19 relief, I find it unacceptable that the kitchen has been overlooked for so long.”

Superintendent Kimberly Brandt did not return a request for comment Friday.

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