The Los Angeles Unified School District receives about $2.85 a child a day from the state and federal governments to provide breakfast and lunch to students. Of that amount, according to the nonprofit group California Food Policy Advocates, or CFPA, about $2 must be spent on milk, supplies, salaries and benefits, leaving about 85 cents for the food on your child’s Styrofoam tray. Given this paltry budget, it seems astounding that our children are fed at all, yet L.A. Unified’s food service manages to serve nearly half a million meals each school day, and it does so within or exceeding U.S. Agriculture Department nutrition guidelines.
If this feat seems miraculous — and I defy anyone else to make an even moderately healthy meal for that amount — try doing it with even less.
That’s the kind of loaves-and-fishes territory that the food service might soon find itself in if the school board passes an initiative today expanding healthcare for cafeteria workers.
Part-time food service employees are seeking the same health benefits — including coverage for their families — that their full-time counterparts enjoy. Extending these benefits to cafeteria staff who currently work only three hours a day would cost an estimated $40 million a year, according to school board calculations.
Nowhere in the private sector do three-hour-a-day employees expect to be eligible for full family benefits; nowhere but in the surreal world of L.A. Unified would anyone have the nerve to ask for them.
Here we are, the Richest Nation in the World, and children in a major city are being fed a breakfast and lunch for $2.85 a day (what do those children eat, I wonder? Stuff rejected by the dog food factory?), and the cafeteria workers don’t have health benefits. And all this motherbleeper concludes is that the cafeteria workers have some nerve.
Exactly what is wrong with us?
Notice, Ezra says, “that every single time a group of individuals seeks health coverage, they’re forced into direct warfare with their immediate colleagues, place of employment, etc. So in this case, cafeteria workers who need coverage are set in opposition to children who need food.” The notion that we ought to be doing better than this for both the children and the cafeteria workers doesn’t even flicker through Williamson’s head.
To paraphrase the Ronald Reagan quote in the last post, someday we will tell our children and our childrenâ€™s children what it once was like when America wasn’t a third-world shithole.