Recently, Los Angeles Schools received extensive media attention after a March 29 event unveiling their new Classroom Breakfast program that will reach more than 200,000 students daily. Our own E S Foods CEO Gary Davis was on hand for the early-morning news conference presented by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, “Modern Family” star Sofia Vegara, L.A. Fund Chair Megan Chernin, L.A. Unified Board President Monica Garcia and Superintendent John Deasy. The kick-off event was held at Figueroa Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles.
This major initiative is a partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the L.A. Fund for Public Education, a fundraising group. The “Food for Thought” program, which will provide Breakfast in the Classroom rather than the cafeteria, is aimed at boosting the share of students who eat school breakfast from 29% to 70%, according to David Binkle, the district’s food services deputy director. More than 200,000 students in 267 schools are expected to participate in this program next year.
Says Gary Davis, “We applaud this monumental initiative that LAUSD has undertaken. We are most proud that LAUSD has been and is currently serving Breakfast Breaks in their Classroom Breakfast program. The exciting reality is that so many in need children will now be able to start their day with a healthy nutritious breakfast.” For the LAUSD pilot Classroom Breakfast program E S Foods has donated the transport carts and insulated cases.
According to the Los Angeles Times, in high schools and some middle schools, the district plans to set up kiosks around campus with breakfast kits that students can grab and take into class. L.A. Unified hopes eventually to expand the program to 676 campuses serving more than 500,000 students in three years. Such an expansion could have a tremendous financial as well as positive social impact on the district.
Children from low-income families — who make up about 80% of L.A. Unified students — are less likely to eat breakfast, according to the California Food Policy Advocates. Some parents may not be able to afford the food; others may leave for work too early to make breakfast for their children. Similar programs have been introduced in Chicago, Houston, San Diego and Detroit as a key strategy to feed breakfast to more children, preparing students for learning and achievement.
The program marks the first initiative by the L.A. Fund, launched last year by Deasy and philanthropist Megan Chernin to raise $200 million over five years for local public schools. The foundation is providing about $200,000 to help develop nutrition education, provide learning tools for the 10- to 15-minute breakfast period and work with vendors to improve food quality.
What great news for Los Angeles and for increased awareness overall for school breakfast programs everywhere!