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Los Angeles Unified Crosses 25 Million Meal Milestone In Country’s Largest Food Relief Effort (05-28-20)

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Shannon Haber, 213-393-1289                         May 28, 2020

Los Angeles Unified Crosses 25 Million Meal Milestone
In Country’s Largest Food Relief Effort

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Unified reached another milestone today in its food relief effort as it crossed the threshold of providing more than 25 million free meals at its 63 Grab & Go Food Centers to students and families in need.

Los Angeles Unified provided 613,421 meals on Thursday, bringing the total to 25,059,731 meals served since the Grab & Go Food Centers opened on March 18. Meals are provided weekdays to students and families – no questions asked.

“Our mission at Los Angeles Unified is to help students learn and support students and families most in need,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “This milestone is a stark reminder of the need in the communities we serve.”

About 80% of Los Angeles Unified students come from families living in poverty, and their meals are reimbursed by federal and state programs. Adults receive about one-third of the meals provided at the Grab & Go centers, and Los Angeles Unified has not yet been reimbursed for those costs.

“It's a source of concern that we still do not have a solution from the state, county or city on how reimbursement to Los Angeles Unified will occur for the adult meals we're providing,” Superintendent Beutner continued. “The need is there and the relief effort is helping more people than any other food bank in the country. Across the country, many other states, counties and cities are taking care of adults as we are doing in Los Angeles. It’s pretty simple, either the State, County or City should be providing the meals or they need to use the funding they’ve received from the federal government for this purpose to reimburse Los Angeles Unified.”

In addition to providing free meals each weekday at the Grab & Go centers, Los Angeles Unified has also provided books, baby supplies, treats for children and sporting equipment students can use to stay physically active. Individuals, foundations and businesses have contributed more than $12 million to LA Students Most in Need, the charity founded by Los Angeles Unified, to help pay for this relief effort.

 “Because of the tremendous effort at Los Angeles Unified, we are able to say that we have provided more than 25 million free meals at our Grab & Go Food Centers for our students and families in need,” Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic said. “As a district, we acted with urgency and have had our local centers open since March 18 so that our students wouldn’t have to fear where their next meal would come from and they could focus on school, their health and their loved ones. I am proud of what we are doing for our Los Angeles Unified students and our community, and we will continue to be a source of support during these hard times.”

“Feeding the hungry is a critical part of fighting COVID-19,” Board Vice President Jackie Goldberg said. “I am so proud that, from the beginning, we at Los Angeles Unified decided to make sure that our children and youth and their families could stay at home more easily because they had healthy food available every weekday. As we have just reached delivering an unbelievable 25 million meals, I especially want to thank all the Los Angeles Unified employees who have volunteered to serve the people of our communities while putting their own lives at risk.”

“We remain grateful to all of the employees, volunteers and community partners supporting Los Angeles Unified’s continued food service delivery to our students and families,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “Providing more than 25 million meals in this short period of time is a constant reminder of the tremendous impact of the pandemic on the greater Los Angeles region.”

“Economic impact is being felt most in working-class communities – home to many essential workers,” Board Member Mónica García said. “Our families and communities need continued support for basic needs like food and access to the internet. Thank you to all of our staff and volunteers who make the Grab & Go Food Centers possible for our students and families. We know that healthy children mean more student success.”

“I am so very grateful that Los Angeles Unified has been able to ensure that not only our students, but members of their family and local communities who need food, are being served,” Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson said. “Once again, Los Angeles Unified took the lead and did not hesitate when it was apparent that the distribution of meals would be needed. We will continue in the coming months to make sure that our children and their families and neighbors do not experience hunger in the fifth-largest economy in the world. I am also optimistic that our State, County and City partners will help with the reimbursements we need to support instruction and services for our students going forward in these challenging times.”

“I continue to be proud of the incredible effort of our dedicated employees and volunteers who are operating one of, if not the largest, food-relief efforts in the country,” Board Member Nick Melvoin said. “Providing free meals – now, three a day for students and their families – since schools were closed in mid-March is one of the many ways Los Angeles Unified has stepped up in this moment of uncertainty. We celebrate today 25 million meals – now averaging over 600,000 a day –  but we also recommit to filling this need through the summer to make sure Angelenos have access to food security. Today alone, hundreds of thousands of our neighbors came to schools to get food, and we hope the city and county will recognize this need and support Los Angeles Unified in this effort.”

“We’re proud to have served over 25 million meals to our students and their families,” Board Member Kelly Gonez said. “Los Angeles Unified has leapt in to meet the need in our community caused by this crisis, and our commitment to serving families remains as strong as ever.”