School Board Approves Chicken Free of Antibiotics and Hormones L. A. Unified First Large District to Switch to Healthier Option

 LOS ANGELES (March 8, 2016) – Today, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education made a significant move to give students better access to healthier foods. They unanimously approved the contract for antibiotic and hormone-free chicken products. As a result, L.A. Unified is the first of the country's large school districts to serve only antibiotic-free chicken.

“Students asked the District for healthier food to increase academic achievement and we agree,” said School Board Member Mónica García. “Today, we continue to celebrate a district that embraces student and parent voices to increase healthy food options, expand opportunities for small businesses and committed labor partners, and strengthen the path to 100 percent graduation.”

The change stems from the District’s Good Food procurement policy, which prioritizes a five-star plan that includes: locally sourced products, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutritious, healthier choices. The switch to drug-free poultry is part of an on-going trend at L. A. Unified.

Over the past decade, the Board of Education has required more nutritious meals with less fat, salt and sugar, plus additional servings of fresh fruits, vegetables and meat-free options. Chocolate and other flavored milk have been replaced by low-fat or nonfat milk. Also, sodas and junk food are no longer for sale at schools.

“The passing of the resolution shows the bold steps this school district is taking to ensure the health and wellness of students,” said the District’s Food Services Co-Director Laura Benavidez. “Providing the best possible, highest-quality food for students shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be a right.”

In December 2014, the Urban School Food Alliance, a coalition of the largest school districts in the U.S. announced an antibiotic-free standard for companies to follow when supplying chicken products to its schools. The alliance took this action to protect the future of its students.

The school board also gave the green light to move forward with hundreds of kitchen upgrades and equipment replacements for district cafeterias. These upgrades will include new walk-in freezers energy-efficient appliances, stoves, coolers, food cabinets, icemakers, and ovens.