How LAUSD's School Lunches Are Helping Local Bakers, Farmers & Businesses
LAUSD's school lunch program has been hotly criticized, mostly because their menus weren't so well-recieved by students and the new dishes really weren't that healthy after all. But one thing the school lunch program has done right is helping support local farmers, food producers, and bakers in the implementation of these new menus.
The L.A. Times reports that the district has moved from purchasing foods from out of state to more local California purveyors, ideally within 200 miles of Los Angeles, stimulating the local economy.
Says the Times:
In a groundbreaking effort, the nation's second-largest school district is using its enormous purchasing clout to support local farmers and businesses. In just two years, the district has boosted its local purchases of fruit and vegetables from 9% of its $20-million annual produce budget to 75% today. L.A. Unified now buys locally for at least 50% of its overall $125-million food budget, about double the proportion of two years ago, according to David Binkle, the district's food services director.
At Field Fresh in Gardena, for instance, increased orders for their veggies have gone from $4 million to $8 million annually and created 25 new jobs, and at Integrated Food Service in Gardena, the ordering of their waffles has created 31 jobs. Buena Vista Food Products, the creators of the new "Glorious Morning" muffin to be served with the controversial Breakfast in the Classroom program, have seen the largest impact, with the creation of over 100 jobs this year.
So while the state's economy as a whole has hardly recovered, at least some food purveyors are feeling some love.