A $1 million gift from Nature Made to support Los Angeles Unified School District’s Grab & Go Food Relief Program was announced Monday by the West Hills-based vitamin and supplement company.
The donation will help pay for free lunches for students and families in need during COVID-19, which has kept school campuses closed as students learn in virtual classrooms.
“Businesses and individuals have joined together to be part of this effort to help students and families in need,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said, noting that Grab & Go pickups help ensure that youngsters who normally receive food in the school cafeteria are still being fed while they learn at home. “We are grateful to the Nature Made team for supporting their local community and for understanding the important role that food security plays in a child’s development and education,” he said.
Nature Made is one of many supporters of the food relief effort, with LAUSD bringing in more than $23 million in donations so far, Beutner said. The funding has helped provide more than 55 million meals to hungry children and adults since March.
“COVID-19 has laid bare the inequities many school children and families face even under normal circumstances,” said Jeff Boutelle, CEO of Pharmavite, which produces Nature Made vitamins and supplements. “By supporting the dedicated efforts of Los Angeles Unified and other organizations who continue providing much needed access to food despite limited funds and resources, we’re helping ensure that children can spend more time focusing on their education versus wondering where their next meal is coming from.”
The donation to LAUSD is part of Nature Made’s larger commitment to support schools in local communities where the company has roots. Nature Made also donated vitamins and supplements to help support the overall health of faculty and district staff who are working in virtual classrooms, and the company is funding EnrichLA’s Garden Care Program for the 2020-2021 school year and its online education program for the fall semester.
Grab & Go locations are staffed weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. — a shift to one hour earlier, as of this week — so there’s enough time for families to get food before their children start school at 9 a.m., according to district officials. Per a request from the federal government, families are being asked to bring their student’s meal card, so the information can be recorded when they pick up meals, but LAUSD is not restricting its meal program to students with school ID’s.
“We’ll continue to provide meals to any hungry child or adult with or without the card,” Beutner said. “But collecting the information will help make clear to the Trump administration that there is still a great need in the communities we serve. The relief effort has become the largest of its type in the nation with the support from many businesses and individuals in the community.”
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