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How People Are Planning To Feed Students If LAUSD Teachers Strike

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Shawn Carpenter/Flickr Creative Commons)
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What happens to the district's approximately 484,000 students if LAUSD teachers go on strike?

Schools will remain open for their normal hours but with a skeleton staff of principals, cafeteria workers, custodians, front office employees, police officers and parent volunteers.

For parents who decide not to send their kids to school, they face the challenge of finding alternate childcare and, in some cases, making sure their children have enough food.

In the Pico-Union neighborhood, approximately 95% of the students attending public elementary schools access free or reduced-price lunches.

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At Thomas Starr King Middle School in Los Feliz, that figure is nearly 75%.

So Joel Laguna, a sixth grade history teacher at King Middle School, and some of his fellow teachers decided to start a free food program for students during the strike.

"We know that food insecurity is going to be a huge issue during the strike, or it might be. And as teachers, obviously, we want to make sure that the health and nutrition of our students is first and foremost during this time," Laguna says.

The GoFundMe campaign they launched on January 4 has so far raised almost $2,000, surpassing its $1,500 goal.

"We have a group of teachers who are going to be making food every single day, bag lunches that kids and families can pick up," Laguna says. The lunches will contain an uncrusted peanut butter and jelly sandwich, fruit, a nutrition bar and a bottle of water. They can be picked up curbside, in front of the school, every day of the potential strike.

Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (bark/Flickr Creative Commons)

If the strike doesn't happen, or if it ends and there's money left from the fundraising campaign, Laguna says it will go to a nearby Ronald McDonald House.

"The program has been so successful that we are actually going to expand the program out to all the local elementary schools," he says.

But why bother if schools are going to stay open and continue serving meals?

Teachers think many parents won't send their kids to school, whether for practical or ideological reasons.

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LAUSD has hired 400 non-union substitute teachers to fill in at schools. The district already made it easier and less costly for parents to volunteer and this week, they tried to add more flexibility to those guidelines.

"Last strike that we had 30 years ago, about half of the students did not come to school," Laguna says. A lot of parents are not going to send their kids to school because we have overwhelming parent support. And they don't want to have their kids break our strike lines."

January 11, 1989: "Teachers gather at LAUSD headquarters in preparation for a demonstration march. Several school teachers bearing placards demonstrate for pay raises outside the headquarters. Union leaders threatened an "alley fight" and strongly hinted of a strike unless agreement is reached by February 3." (Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library Collection)

Another campaign, Tacos for Teachers, launched January 3 by Strike Support Committee, has raised more than $8,000 to feed teachers by bringing taco trucks to the picket lines. Any remaining funds not used on tacos goes directly to Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools.

We've also heard reports of other fundraising campaigns, on various online platforms and on Amazon, related to the Los Angeles teachers strike. As always, be aware that in addition to legitimate campaigns, these platforms are ripe for scammers.

If you want to know how many students are receiving free or reduced-price lunches at your local school, you can click here and select the applicable county, school district and school.

Carne asada tacos on the streets of Los Angeles. (Photo by Elina Shatkin/LAist)