The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education approved a $30 million bond-funded program to provide air conditioning systems in school cafeteria kitchens across the district, a significant investment that aligns with the 2022-26 strategic plan.
The program will provide multi-ton commercial grade air conditioning equipment at up to 682 school kitchens. Implementation will begin in the first quarter of 2023 with the goal to complete as many sites as possible before the start of the 2023-24 school year.
“Los Angeles Unified is committed to the ongoing and continuous process of upgrading and modernizing our infrastructure,” Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said. “The additional support for cafeteria kitchens will provide important cooling investments to address some of the aging units in our buildings.”
“We are excited to see the Los Angeles Unified School Board take action to protect our members,” Teamsters Local 572 business representative Adriana Salazar said. “Global warming is not getting better. Summer temperatures are not going to cool off and schools that were built almost 100 years ago were not equipped with air conditioning. With this program, the district is demonstrating their willingness to support their employees by being solution oriented. We thank you on behalf of our food service managers who can now be told that help is on the way.”
“We all want improved safety, relief from oppressive heat, and decent working conditions for the workers who prepare and serve nutritious meals every day for our kids; cafeteria kitchen cooling upgrades does that,” board president Jackie Goldberg said. “The public voted for Measure RR to tell us to invest in our schools and we’re getting it done responsibly and transparently.”
Board vice president Scott M. Schmerelson said it is important to approve programs that ensure healthy and safe environments while increasing student capacity for learning and success.
“These well-deserved upgrades to our school cafeteria kitchens will assist us in elevating school nutrition with fresh and healthy options,” Schmerelson said. “I thank our local taxpayers for supporting Measure RR and making this possible. It is about time that we improved the mitigation of heat in our cafeterias. Our food service workers deserve better.”
Board member Dr. George J. McKenna III said that following record heat waves last year, providing cooling in cafeteria kitchens will create healthier conditions for workers making nutritious meals for students.
“As the effects of the climate crisis continue to intensify, we will continue investing in urgent, comprehensive mitigation strategies to ensure the health and safety of everyone on our campuses — including our dedicated food service staff who work tirelessly to provide students with up to three meals a day,” board member Nick Melvoin added.
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