Categories
KTLA

LAUSD serves 10 millionth free meal during coronavirus closure

Since shuttering its campuses last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Los Angeles Unified School District has served millions of free meals to children and adults. On Monday, the nation’s second-largest school district reached the major milestone of providing 10 million “grab-and-go” meals since the March 16 closure, according to an LAUSD news release. […]

Since shuttering its campuses last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Los Angeles Unified School District has served millions of free meals to children and adults.

On Monday, the nation’s second-largest school district reached the major milestone of providing 10 million “grab-and-go” meals since the March 16 closure, according to an LAUSD news release.

Superintendent Austin Beutner toured two of the 63 food distribution sites on Monday morning, Garfield High School in East Los Angeles and San Fernando Senior High School.

LAUSD has partnered with the American Red Cross to open various sites at schools across the city so that students in need could still get nutritious meals during the temporary closure.

The food centers, which are open Monday through Friday and staffed between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., have been handing out meals since March 18. Each student is allowed to take home two free meals, breakfast and lunch.

The district has received about $6 million from local businesses and big corporations to help fund the program.

But the cost of the program is projected at around $78 million, part of nearly $200 million in additional costs that the district expects to incur through the end of the academic year as a result of the coronavirus emergency, Beutner said at a news conference Monday morning.

Prior to the weekly briefing, Beutner said the “grab-and-go” meals will go on for however long is necessary, particularly since it’s still unclear when campuses will reopen.

“The return to school will not be so simple. There’s a lot of conversation, a lot of speculation about what might occur,” he said as he toured the site outside Garfield High School. “The when, simple: as soon as we can. The how, more complicated, because we’ve got to make sure the testing is in place, and that testing connects to those who have been identified with the virus … and that we understand the implications for reopening our schools, which we know will be different.”

The superintendent stressed that it will be done in a “safe and appropriate” manner for the entire school community.

All LAUSD campuses are closed for the remainder of the academic year, with schools holding classes online so that students can continue all learning. Courses through the summer will also be conducted through distance learning, Beutner said earlier this month.

Those were just some of the changes the district made in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The superintendent also said that no students will receiving a failing grade for the spring semester, while those without access to services they need to complete their schoolwork will not be penalized. And graduation ceremonies are expected to be conducted virtually.

It’s not immediately known where exactly the additional funding will come from, but the superintendent was clear that students will remain the priority.

“The most immediate challenge is to make sure we take care of students, help them continue to learn and help students, families, most in need,” he said.

But even as the virus has upended the school year for students, the district is feeling its affects financially. The district has spent an estimated $200 million in emergency costs related to the crisis, including feeding students and providing them with computers, Beutner said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that was published Monday.

“We know the crisis is having a big impact on the students and families we serve and it’s having a big impact on school budgets as well,” he told the newspaper.

It’s not immediately known where exactly the additional funding will come from, but the superintendent was clear that students will remain the priority.

“The most immediate challenge is to make sure we take care of students, help them continue to learn and help students, families, most in need,” he said.