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Hastings school district food services workers' voted Friday to approve a new contract, ending a strike that lasted nearly seven weeks.

The district and the union — SEIU Local 284 — reached a tentative agreement Thursday night, and the union ratified it Friday.

The tentative agreement will go before the school board Wednesday, along with a return-to-work agreement. The return-to-work date is Thursday, a district email said.

"While the process has been long, and both sides engaged in what they felt they needed to do in the best interest of their respective organizations, the district has shifted its focus to the future," the district email said.

About 35 food service workers went on strike Feb. 7. They picketed outside Hastings City Hall, at Hastings schools and along Hwy. 55, wearing purple and carrying signs, some saying "Honk 4 Hot Lunch."

Workers from the south metro district, which has 4,200 students, had said their wages weren't keeping pace with inflation.

According to a union email, the one-year contract includes wage increases and "step movement for all eligible members" along with one-time payments of $800. The contract also maintains the district's contribution to health insurance.

"Now we have a better contract than we otherwise would have gotten without our fight," Sara Rapp, a food service worker at Hastings High School, said in a union email. "Hourly school workers across the state are fighting to win more for staff and students, and our strike was an important part of that fight."

Kelly Gibbons, executive director of SEIU 284, said the workers showed "amazing solidarity."

"Staffing shortages and high turnover in these critical positions are because of low wages that we need to end once and for all," Gibbons said in the union email.

She added that the Legislature should "create a living wage for hourly school workers" and fund the increased wages.

Laurie Potthoff, a union steward and cook at Hastings High School, said she wished her own pay increase "would have been a little better, but we are all in this together."

"We are really happy to go back," she said. "We get to go feed our kiddos."