Looks like Los Angeles public school students will continue to receive free breakfast in their classrooms.
The Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Board Of Education voted yesterday on whether to continue the controversial Breakfast in the Classroom program. Despite opposition from an influential teacher’s union, United Teachers of Los Angeles, the measure passed unanimously, according to Southern California Public Radio.
Breakfast in the Classroom is a federally funded program that provides low-income LAUSD students with free breakfast. It currently takes place in almost 300 schools and reaches about 200,000 students, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. It is expected to expand to 609 campuses by the end of 2014-15, the outlet says.
According to the program’s website, it helps students who otherwise would be deprived of “an important nutritious meal needed to succeed in class.”
Members United Teachers of Los Angeles complained that in its current form, the program is messy, takes time away from teaching and is distracting. In an official statement, they said they supported moving the program to the cafeteria.
"Parents, make no mistake: teachers are not trying to deny your child of breakfast at school. We believe that breakfast should happen before the instructional day begins, and in the cafeteria instead of the classroom," the statement reads.
However, students rarely take advantage of free breakfast when it is served in the cafeteria, David Binkle, the district's food services director, told the Los Angeles Times.
When it came time to vote, school board members, such as Steve Zimmer, said the mission of the program overruled its kinks, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Every program I've seen LAUSD implement has problems," said Zimmer, who is strongly supported by the teacher’s union. "We know we cannot turn away and pretend for a moment longer that [hunger] is someone else's problem. This is not instead of education. This is education."
Outside the vote, hundreds of members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) demonstrated in favor of the program, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. SEIU, whose members include cafeteria workers, said that hundreds of cafeteria jobs would be at risk if the program were discontinued, according to KABC-TV.