LOS ANGELES (May 14, 2013) — The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education today unanimously voted to continue and expand the District’s Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) initiative. This program, the largest of its kind in the nation, will ensure more students in elementary and secondary schools receive the nutrition they need as they begin the instructional day.
“We have seen the benefit of Breakfast in the Classroom and the positive impact it’s had on our children and schools,” said Board President Mónica García. “Today’s continued support for Breakfast in the Classroom means students will get the nourishment they need to excel academically. This is the smart way of serving our students, increasing achievement and using our dollars effectively.”
Board Member Nury Martinez said, "A hungry child is a distracted child. In the year since we've implemented the program, we've seen increased academic performance, attention span and focus with decreased absenteeism, tardiness and visits to the nurse because of hunger. Breakfast in the Classroom ensures that all LAUSD students start the day as prepared to learn as possible and I'm proud to support this important initiative."
Board Member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, in supporting the item, said “I chose to be a teacher. I wanted to be a teacher” and have always support those things that help classroom instruction. She further said that we should work together to straighten out whatever glitches or inconsistencies may currently exist in the program so that we can keep things moving.
Research shows that hungry children don’t perform as well in the classroom. In fact, more than 100 studies verify the connection between sound nutrition and higher academic achievement, finding that students who eat a healthy breakfast are more prepared to learn and excel at math and reading. Additional benefits include better attendance, lower tardiness and fewer trips to the school nurse.
“Before our Breakfast in the Classroom program, many of our students skipped the most important meal of the day. Some had not eaten since the lunch served at our schools the previous day. We know that kind of hunger is the enemy of learning,” Superintendent John Deasy said.
Currently close to 210,000 students who attend 288 LAUSD schools participate in the program, which began in March 2012 with help from the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education. The LA Fund has contributed more than $200,000 this school year with donations from the California Endowment, Parsons Foundation, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, and Roll Global.
“This is a great day for students in LAUSD. School Board members are putting students first, and agree with the experts that children who have a nutritious breakfast every morning do better in school. We are grateful to the school board for their support. Breakfast in the Classroom assures this important first step in the learning day and offers a communal mealtime for in-class community building,” said LA Fund CEO Megan Chernin.
Among the many strong and enthusiastic supporters is Osbaldo Jimenez, Principal of 52nd Street Elementary School. “After Breakfast in the Classroom came to my school, my staff saw firsthand the benefits of the program, from improved attendance to increased student and parent engagement.”
Overall, more students are eating breakfast. “When breakfast was served in the school cafeteria, we had a 29 percent participation rate. That has increased by 89 percent since Breakfast in the Classroom and, best of all, students are eating a healthy, nutritious breakfast,” said David Binkle, LAUSD Food Services Director.
BIC is projected to generate an additional $6 million in reimbursement revenue to LAUSD saving hundreds of cafeteria jobs. “The District’s Food Services team has done a wonderful job supporting students with Breakfast in the Classroom. Moving forward, we will continue to place a high priority on ensuring our school community’s concerns are addressed to their satisfaction,” said LAUSD Chief Operating Officer Enrique Boull’t.
Renewing and extending the successful program was made possible with a combination of resources from LAUSD and the LA Fund, and support from additional partners including Share Our Strength, California Food Policy Advocates, the CAA Foundation, Child Obesity 180, No Kid Hungry LA, InnerCity Struggle, SEIU Local 99, the Healthy School Food Coalition, and Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.
"The importance of the proper nutrition to start the day cannot be understated. It supports improved learning, a stronger school environment, and is a powerful tool to help communities address food insecurity and childhood obesity. We applaud the LAUSD Board of Education and LAUSD staff for their commitment to Breakfast in the Classroom," said Robert K. Ross, MD, President and CEO of The California Endowment
The importance of the program is also recognized beyond the District’s vast boundaries.
"The LAUSD's Breakfast in the Classroom is a giant step forward for a child’s daily nutrition,” said Alice Waters, internationally known founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project in Northern California and her renowned Chez Panisse Restaurant located in the Bay Area. She added, “It also provides a rare and important opportunity for teachers to creatively engage with students around the subject of food: how we can eat with intention for our own health and the health of the planet."
Contact: Daryl Strickland (213) 241-6766