LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The second-largest school district in the nation has reached a grim milestone — 10 million meals served since campuses closed to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
When the Los Angeles Unified School District made the monumental decision to shut down its campuses last month, one of its overriding concerns were the students who depend on school for at least one meal a day.
As teachers scrambled to put together lesson plans that could be taught remotely, and other district officials worked to make sure students had the devices and internet access needed to do their work, 60 grab-and-go centers were set up to make sure students wouldn’t go hungry while they sheltered at home.
Since then, more than a million meals have been distributed each week to both children and adults. Monday marks the sixth week since schools have been closed but it will be the week the district marks its 10 millionth meal distributed.
“That’s a staggering number and it should be a wake up call for all of us about the impact this crisis is having on the community and the people we serve,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said while visiting the Grab-and-Go center at Garfield High School.
The district is not only feeding its students, but also adults in the community. It gave out 600,000 meals on Friday alone.
“We are helping more people than any other food bank in the country,” Beutner said. “This is not a school meal program. This is a community relief effort, and we have to be mindful as the need continues to grow.”
All those efforts have resulted in $200 million in additional costs this year for the district, Beutner said in a briefing to the LAUSD community Monday. The cost of closing schools in order to save lives has necessitated millions in spending for providing meals, last-minute training for educators, ensuring students have devices and internet access, and a bigger investment in summer school.
The community at large has responded in kind, with the LA84 Foundation providing free balls, jump ropes and other play equipment so students can stay healthy and active while confined to their homes. The play equipment is being given alongside grab-and-go meals in high-need areas, starting at Garfield and San Fernando high schools on Monday. See’s Candies also donated all its Easter chocolate and candy to include in grab-and-go bags.