A well-intended program to provide free breakfast to 193,000 LAUSD students going to school in the face of domestic food scarcity is getting a giant F-grade from the district’s teachers. An online union survey found more than half of respondents reporting an increase in bugs and vermin in their classroom as a result and complaining that an additional 30 minutes was needed to accommodate the program, feed the students, and then clean up after it in the wake of custodial cuts in the school district’s budget. Many of the survey-takers mentioned they would support the bill if these specific complaints were resolved, while holding onto grievances about food waste, the intrinsic health benefits of the breakfast, and the low quality of some of the food.
Despite encouraging the school district to move the program into school cafeterias, LAUSD food services director David Binkle tells The L.A. Times, that the program, which was launched in 2011 with help from the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education, among other partners, is a “smashing success,” leading to a reduction in tardiness, absences, disruptions, and infirmary visits.
“Our children need nutrition in order to learn in school,” Binkle insists, as the district plans to add 324 schools to the program next year.