The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced last week that it will discontinue the free school breakfast plan it initiated last year.
Called "Food for Thought," the plan provides school breakfasts to about 200,000 students.
It was funded by the LAUSD and the nonprofit Los Angeles Fund for Public Education, whose goal is to raise the number who participate to about 450,000 students (out of a total of 645,000 in the entire district).
If you go to the fund's website (lafund.org), you are greeted with these messages: "Learn to dream" (in English and in Spanish) and "Imagine your life without limits." These are essentially meaningless messages. But, as we shall see, the fund's breakfast program is not only meaningless; it is quite destructive.
The reasons for the announced cancellation were that the program had drawn rodents and insects into classrooms, and that classroom learning time was being wasted by students eating for long periods in class.
But the rodents, insects and disruption of class learning time are nothing in terms of destructiveness compared to the free breakfast itself.
First, the program was created to solve a problem that does not exist.
It is inconceivable that there are five, let alone 200,000 or the projected 450,000, homes in Los Angeles that cannot afford breakfast for their child. A nutritious breakfast can be had for less than a dollar. For examples, go to WebMD, which lists five "Breakfast Ideas for a Buck."
Second, it both enables and encourages irresponsible, disinterested and incompetent parenting. Given how inexpensive breakfast can be (not to mention the myriad public and private programs that provide food for poor households), any home that cannot provide its child with breakfast demands a visit from child protective services. Any parent who cannot give a child breakfast is not too poor; he or she is too incapable of being, or too irresponsible to be, a competent parent.