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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

New Healthy Breakfast Program for LAUSD

Students will be taught about nutrition with each meal every morning as part of a joint initiative between the LA Fund and LAUSD.

The Los Angeles Unified School District and the LA Fund for Public Education announced Thursday the creation of "Food for Thought," an initiative to ensure that every LAUSD student is given a healthy breakfast at the beginning of each school day.

The project is planned to be launched at the start of the next school year at each of the 267 schools within the district.

"Study after study shows that when students eat breakfast they are healthier, perform better academically and are less likely to be tardy or miss school,"  LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement.

The project was created largely by the LA Fund, a philanthropic organization focused on implementing programs which lead to positive change in LAUSD schools. The methods of distributing breakfasts will vary according to the grade level of students, but one of the goals of the program, according to the LA Fund, is to make each breakfast a "teaching moment" by integrating grade-appropriate nutrition education with each morning meal.

In elementary schools, the planned method of distribution will be to have breakfasts directly delivered to classrooms and to have the first ten minutes of each school day devoted to teachers and students eating together. At secondary schools, students will pick up their breakfasts at "Grab n' Go" kiosks on campus.

"By transitioning away from the traditional model to a system where breakfast and nutrition education is an integrated experience as part of the regular school day, we can ensure all students receive the start they need and promote the habits that lead to a lifetime of healthy choices," said LA Fund Board Chair Megan Chernin.

This type of district-wide, universal breakfast program is not unique to L.A. and has been seen in other school districts across the country, especially those with a large number of low-come students. Among these cities are Chicago, Houston, San Diego, Detroit and Compton.

The LAUSD program has garnered support from Sophia Vergara, star of "Modern Family" and an advocate Latino rights, who said in a statement: "For too many students, especially from Latino immigrant families, every day is a challenge keeping up in school without access to basic meals we all need in an active life. I want to applaud the LA Fund and Superintendent Deasy for leading the charge to make sure all kids have access to a healthy breakfast that will jump start their day, and get them ready to learn."

LAUSD said that by increasing participation in its breakfast program, they hope to receive additional federal funds which would help them improve their program further by providing them with the money to purchase higher quality food and implement cafeteria upgrades.

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