L.A. Unified Tops Nation in Breakfast Participation For Second Consecutive Year

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 13, 2018) - For the second consecutive year, L.A. Unified has been recognized by the Food Research & Action Center for having the highest participation in its school breakfast program among the nation’s urban school districts.

The nonprofit organization released today its School Breakfast Scorecard that singles out the District for its accomplishment, based on the number of low-income students participating in the national school breakfast program.

"This recognition is for each ‘Kids First’ provider today, including families, employees and community partners, and the visionary equity warriors that stood up for children in 2011 when we initiated the Breakfast in the Classroom pilot program,” said Board President Mónica García. “Universal meal access in our schools interrupts hunger, increases learning and literacy, creates community and has helped increase graduation rates.”

“I appreciate the Food Service Division staff who serves more than 150 million meals a year to our students,” said Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. “Our nutritious school meals maximize students’ academic and physical potential and strives to help them reach their full potential.”

The District’s Café LA program offers breakfast at more than 650 school sites, serving approximately 365,000 students.

“I am extremely proud of the job performed by our 4,000 Food Services employees,” said Food Services Director Joseph K. Vaughn. “Our mission is ‘nourishing children to achieve excellence,’ which we accomplish by providing three hot, nutritious meals every day. In doing so, we contribute to the District’s goal of 100 percent graduation.”

Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast has a positive impact on student success. Each meal must provide 25 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein, iron, calories and Vitamins A and C.

Other Board Members praised the District’s commitment to serving its students.

“By offering breakfast in the classroom to all kids at L.A. Unified – a district with 80 percent of our students living in poverty – we are ensuring their ability to learn and grow without the burden of hunger,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin. “Every child, in Los Angeles and around the world, deserves the food security we are working to provide.”

“The simple act of providing an additional meal to our students is the kind of innovation that makes our school district a special place,” said Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III. “Our employees recognize that education is a holistic process and can require attention to the whole child.”

“I am so very proud of this recognition and I congratulate the tireless Food Services Division employees who prepare, deliver and serve healthy food to our children every school day,” said Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson. “Whenever I visit a school site, I never fail to check in with the cafeteria staff because, as a former principal, I know firsthand how important our nutrition programs are for student learning and well-being.”

“I am proud that L.A. Unified has committed to ensuring its students receive healthy meals every morning,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez. “Many of our students do not have access to a nutritious breakfast, which can ultimately have negative consequences on their education. Students who eat a nutritious and healthy breakfast can concentrate on learning, think more clearly, and perform better in school. I applaud the District for continuing to do all that it can to ensure that students have what they need to be successful.” 

“As we strive to achieve a great public education for all students, I am proud of our commitment to meeting the needs of the whole child,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “So many of our students in L.A. Unified suffer from food instability, and throughout the day we make sure they have the breakfast, lunch and dinner they need to stay healthy and keep learning.”

“I am very happy with the progress the Food Services Division is making to ensure our neediest students are provided with a meal to start their day,” said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic. “We have taken steps to reduce any leftover food, and have shown that there is no reason why students should go hungry.”

The Food Research & Action Center is the leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States.

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 Contact: Ellen Morgan 213-241-6766