Children's Nutrition Is a Governance Issue

By David Tokofsky

School board members spend much of their time focusing on two big items -- student achievement and personnel. Personnel is the biggest single cost in the budget. Academic achievement drives almost all of our decisions. Both determine our ability to be re-elected.

But do board members understand that school food service programs are probably the second largest part of the budget? School cafeterias certainly are the single largest source of federal revenue. Do we consider the impact that good nutrition or, more relevantly, the lack of good nutrition, has on achievement? Parents certainly know that hungry children don’t learn.

I taught in the Los Angeles Unified Schools for 12 years and served for another 12 years as one of the seven members on the LAUSD Board of Trustees. As a board member, I represented 800,000 voters and 125 schools, almost all in the federal Title I program with large percentages of students eligible for free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch.

Over the years, I have observed how board members lack understanding about the role of the school food service program. I am dismayed that board members often dismiss it as an auxiliary service not worthy of time and attention, because it deserves both.

Let’s talk about the issues.

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