LAUSD board votes to continue Breakfast in Classroom program

May 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
LAUSD's board voted unanimously on Tuesday to continue the controversial $6.1 million Breakfast in the Classroom program.

School board members voted to continue the program, but pointed out that the program has its problems, which includes the quality of the food.

"The food's not very good. It's often moldy and cold," said teacher Matthew Kogan.

The federally-funded program provides meals for nearly 200,000 Los Angeles children with the idea that students are more attentive and perform better if they start the day with a nutritious breakfast. LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy a strong supporter of the program.

"Every program that I have ever seen LAUSD implement has problems in implementation. That's what happens. It's not breaking news," said LAUSD board member Steven Zimmer. "Our obligation is to work out the problems."

The breakfast program had the teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles, in direct opposition to the Service Employees International Union, which represents cafeteria workers.

Other criticisms are that having food in the classroom is distracting, messy and takes away from time that should be used to teach.

"When you have 30 10-year-olds all trying to pour milk into a cereal bowl, you're going to have mistakes," said teacher Jose Lara.

Many teachers admit that schools giving kids breakfast is a good idea but say the program needs be modified.

"We should have breakfast in the cafeteria, what a novel idea," Lara said.

But SEIU says cutting the program would have put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy. It also said ditching the program would leave thousands of kids hungry at school.

"Some of these kids, this is their only meal, their breakfast, their lunch and sometimes, they take their lunch home to share with their siblings," said Eddie Reed, president of SEIU Local 99.

The school board room was filled with cafeteria workers and parents who support the program. One parent, Estela Tejeda, told the board how her youngest son has benefited from the program.

"My son Benjamin, he is so happy to go to school, that he has his little task. He has to distribute breakfast to his classmates every morning," Tejada said. "(He's) become more responsible, and he's very energetic. He's ready to go."

City News Service contributed to this report.


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