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Morning Brief: Food Delivery Robots, School Lunch, And Hot Sauce

At a park, 3 or 4 people look at a box-shaped robot with wheels while other people hang out in the background.
People stare at a Coco delivery robot in the Santa Monica/Venice area.
(Courtesy of Coco)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s August 25.

Over the past 17 months, many of us got used to ordering more deliveries than we did in the Before Times. Everything from groceries to toiletries to basic household items can show up at our door with the click of a button, and we're taking advantage.

As with any societal shift, entrepreneurs are taking note. And some believe that the best method for delivering these goods isn’t a driver, but a robot.

LAist contributor Ben Mesirow writes that companies such as Coco, which has sent delivery bots around Santa Monica, operate in part on the belief that the remote-controlled machines are better for us as a society; the robots' carbon footprint is vastly smaller than that of a driver-operated car.But some labor activists see the flip side: bots put people out of work. And, by and large, companies aren’t doing much to ensure that their humans are well taken care of.

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"The problem that we have seen, under the pandemic, is that billionaires are making billions. Amazon is making record profits, and the workers in the warehouses and as delivery people are making poverty wages,” said Kent Wong, director of UCLA's Labor Center. “Amazon is not sharing their profits. They're using it to fly [Jeff] Bezos into outer space.”

As other companies rush to compete with Coco and develop their own delivery robots, Wong worries that the result will just be a greater divide between the rich and the poor — carbon footprint or not.

"It's great for companies to be more efficient and productive,” he said, “but there has to be a shared notion that society as a whole should benefit, not just a handful of elites."

Read the full story here.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • L.A.'s archbishop is urging all Catholics to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
  • California will continue to offer free meals to all K-12 students this year.
  • Last year, the number of high school seniors planning to attend college plummeted amid the pandemic. Now what?
  • California lawmakers indefinitely postponed a planned oversight hearing last week that was intended to examine the Newsom administration’s track record on wildfire prevention.
  • Get to know a little more about Republican gubernatorial candidate and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and Democratic candidate Kevin Paffrath, a YouTuber and Ventura-based real estate broker.

Before You Go ... L.A.'s Hot Sauce Scene Is On Fire

Jah Mama hot sauce.
(via Jah Mama website)

If you’re a fan of the spicy stuff, you’re in luck: L.A.’s hot sauce scene is lit. New companies and restaurants join staples such as Huy Fong's sriracha and celeb offerings like Dexter Holland's Gringo Bandito. Some are mild, and others are more assertive. Whatever your preference, we’ve compiled a list of some of the city’s best.

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