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Los Angeles Unified Reaches Milestones In Community Relief Efforts (04-20-20)

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Shannon Haber, 213-393-1289                         April 20, 2020

Los Angeles Unified Reaches Milestones
In Community Relief Efforts

  • More than 10 Million Meals Served
  • Charitable Effort, LA Students Most in Need, Raises $6 Million to Support Relief Efforts; Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Contributes $1 Million
  • Mental Health Hotline Providing Phone and Video Counseling to Students and Families
  • 100,000 N-95 Masks Donated to Local Hospitals
  • Students and Families Repeatedly Surprised with Toys, Books, Baby Supplies and Sports Gear
  • Special treats from See’s Candies
  • Headphones are Being Provided to 120,000 High School Students

LOS ANGELES – April 20, 2020 – Community relief efforts led by the Los Angeles Unified School District reached a milestone today in providing 10 million meals to date to children and adults in need throughout Southern California during the coronavirus pandemic. The relief efforts have helped more people than any other effort in the country.

In addition to providing 10 million meals in the past month, Los Angeles Unified surprised young children and their families with toys, special treats, books, baby supplies and sports gear; donated 100,000 N-95 masks to local hospitals; and provided mental health counseling and support to students and their families. The school district is also providing 120,000 headphones to high school students.

Shortly after the coronavirus outbreak led to shelter-in-place orders, Los Angeles Unified mobilized an emergency $100 million effort to provide laptops, tablets and Internet access to those students and families without them. Nearly 80% of Los Angeles Unified students live in households in poverty. The school district is attempting to bridge the digital divide that has been laid bare by this pandemic.

Superintendent Austin Beutner has established a charitable fund, LA Students Most in Need, to support students who no longer have the benefit of being in school every day. Los Angeles Unified’s fund-raising efforts have yielded more than $6 million, including donations of goods. The funds support Los Angeles Unified’s 63 Grab & Go Food Centers, which provide critical supplies and learning support, such as headphones, to help students focus on their learning while sheltered at home.

“This crisis is a stark reminder of the safety net public schools provide to the students and families they serve,” Superintendent Beutner said. “I’m grateful for the tireless efforts of my colleagues, the many volunteers, generous donors and supporters and the resources provided by LA Students Most in Need for their support in these relief efforts.”

School Board members praised the effort to continue meeting the needs of students and families while schools are closed.

“Since March 18, Los Angeles Unified has distributed over 10 million free meals to children and adults in need across our district,” Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic said. “Our dedicated employees and volunteers work hard every day at our 63 Grab & Go Food Centers to ensure our families and students don’t have to worry about where they will get their next meal. Los Angeles Unified will continue to be there for our communities as a partner and a support system through these uncharted times.”

“Reaching the milestone of 10 million meals served is both a cause for great celebration and deep consternation,” Board Vice President Jackie Goldberg said. “I am very proud that Los Angeles Unified is providing this lifeline to families. I am also deeply concerned at the level of need this demonstrates. We must continue to figure out how to help our most vulnerable families.”

“I applaud the efforts of everyone who has worked to ensure that we are continuing to provide meals to our children and families,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “We hope that the simple act of continuing food service during these difficult times is a source of comfort and consistency.”

“We are grateful to our Los Angeles Unified team members, the Red Cross volunteers, José Andrés and his organization, World Central Kitchen, and other partners who are meeting the moment to serve our students and families,” Board Member Mónica García said. “The needs are great but our resilience and combined strength are greater. More than ever, we are committed to putting our love into action for the safety and wellness of the Los Angeles Unified community.”

"As a former educator and administrator, I am not surprised that our Los Angeles Unified family has stepped up and has been able to feed so many of our students and families during this time of uncertainty,” Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson said. “I hope our response helps our local communities understand how the wellbeing of Los Angeles depends on the multitudes of roles and services that our public schools and public employees fulfill and deliver every single day. Thank you to all the Los Angeles Unified staff and volunteers who are making sure that nobody goes hungry during these difficult times."

“This crisis has revealed existing crises by which school systems are relied upon – not just to educate students, but to fill in gaps in the social safety net for the families we serve,” Board Member Nick Melvoin said. “I’m proud that Los Angeles Unified continues to step up to the plate to serve the needs of families through our Grab & Go Food Centers and I am grateful for the volunteers and staff working tirelessly to meet the basic needs of students.”

“Los Angeles Unified is committed to serving our families throughout the coronavirus pandemic,” Board Member Kelly Gonez said. “Our public schools provide so much more than instruction for our students, and I’m proud that we’ve served over 10 million meals to date. While we may be physically distant, our commitment to our families is as strong as ever.”

Most recently, LA Students Most in Need received $1 million from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who has long been a strong advocate for expanding educational opportunities for all.

"I hope this contribution will help the Los Angeles Unified School District continue the vital work they are doing on behalf of students and families who are most in need during this crisis," Mr. Hastings said.

“We are so grateful to help bring a little happiness to so many families and have the support of partners like Los Angeles Unified, Nike, WSS, Kole Imports and Dick’s Sporting Goods,” President & CEO of the LA84 Foundation and the Play Equity Fund Renata Simril said. “We each recognized access to space and equipment for many families is limited, but healthy activity for kids during this time of social distancing and COVID-19 is critical. Exercise is essential to our physical and mental health. This is a collaborative effort to provide the tools for kids to be healthier, play at home and reduce anxiety, and help strengthen those in our communities who need it most.”

“We are so appreciative of Superintendent Beutner and Los Angeles Unified for the leadership but, more importantly, the heart and the sweat it takes to serve hundreds of thousands in Los Angeles every day,” See’s Candies President & CEO Pat Egan said. “When we heard how many were being fed thanks to these efforts, we had to step in to help. We hope this contribution from a California-based company that uses mostly California products can inspire other businesses to do what all of us can at this important time. So many children get their meals at school, and with that not being an option, we hope other businesses can support the tremendous work Los Angeles Unified is doing.”

Labor partners, including SEIU Local 99 and Teamsters Local 572, expressed their support for Los Angeles Unified’s relief efforts.

“Food Service workers, custodians, truck drivers, after-school workers and many other SEIU Local 99 members are proud to be on the frontlines, preparing and delivering meals to students and families,” SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias said. “These are our children, these are our communities, and we know that Grab & Go sites are offering both nourishment and a ray of hope to so many in this time of crisis.”

“We are happy to continue to work with Los Angeles Unified to bring the much-needed supplies and special treats to students and families,” Secretary/Treasurer for Teamsters Local 572 Rick Middleton said.