LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of school cafeteria workers and other LAUSD employees Tuesday protested the district’s decision to end a program that provides breakfast to students directly in the classroom.
KNX 1070′s Ed Mertz reports the “Breakfast In The Classroom” program currently serves breakfast to nearly 200,000 students a day at 279 schools district-wide.
Parents and members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) lined up along the sidewalk outside Hooper Elementary School on 1225 E. 52nd St. to voice their support for the program, including one union official who said cutting out breakfast could mean hundreds of jobs lost.
“If the Board does not vote to support the continuation of ‘Breakfast In The Classroom’, there will be immediate layoffs of 956 cafeteria workers,” said SEIU executive director Courtney Pugh.
Union officials have also claimed the program has saved thousands of cafeteria worker jobs, many of them held by parents of children attending LAUSD schools.
The current school year marks the first roll-out of “Breakfast In The Classroom” (BIC), which, according to LAUSD, was introduced to address the nearly 70 percent of students who are qualified for a free or reduced price breakfast, but do not participate in the program.
District officials had hoped to eventually expand BIC to all LAUSD schools within three years before Superintendent John Deasy proposed ending the program after he received complaints from teachers that serving breakfast in the classroom – rather than before school in the cafeteria – caused messes and reduced instruction time.
A UTLA survey released earlier this month showed teachers would support breakfast at school if sanitation problems could be resolved and instructional time was not impacted.
Photos released by UTLA also showed teachers who participated in the BIC program documented rotten and wasted food, food high in sugar and sodium, and an increase in bugs due to poor sanitation.
“Of course children learn better when they start the day with a nutritious breakfast,” UTLA President Warren Fletcher said. “And every child deserves a full instructional day. One without the other does not make sense.”
In addition to the Hooper Elementary, other rallies are scheduled on Wednesday at Hoover Elementary School and Thursday at Shenandoah Elementary.
The LAUSD School Board is scheduled to vote on May 14. At least four of the seven board members plan to vote in favor of continuing the BIC program, according to the Los Angeles Times.