Board of Education District 5: Bennett Kayser




1. What would you do to leverage the school district’s food purchasing power and expand its commitment to the Good Food Purchasing Program?

As a 7th grade science and health teacher and as a board member, student health is a top priority of mine.  I will continue to push LAUSD to serve the healthiest and nutritionally valuable meals possible.  I have created a healthy food coalition that is comprised of parents, students, teachers and community members that strives to ensure positive student health.  Through community support and feedback, we as the second largest school district can leverage our economies of scale to create efficient and effective food contracts.
As a health teacher, I know how important a balanced and nutritious diet is to learning.  As a board member, I passed Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) so that our students would be ready to learn and I created 80,000 after school meals for our students so they wouldn’t go hungry at night.  I have pressed our district officials to buy food from local growers so that we keep our economy vibrant in Los Angeles and I have been at the forefront of holding our food providers accountable to humane growing practices.  As the only health teacher to be a board member, our food program is highly important to me.

2. How will you increase participation and engage schools to become champions in nutrition access? How will you influence meal programs to encourage healthy eating?

As a teacher I often was told by my students that they would not have a meal at home because of financial restrictions and this lead me to create 80,000 after school meals for students living in poverty.  I will not allow our students to go hungry and in my next term I will expand the program.
With the growth in access to meals, I proactively created the healthy food coalition so that our parents and students would have a voice in the healthy foods conversation.  We have received great feedback on how the district can continue to improve our meal selection and quality of food.

3. What would you do to strengthen and expand the district’s support for school gardens?

I am a strong supporter of school gardens and I have matched funding of $25,000 to several schools (Los Feliz Elementary School, Micheltorena Elementary School, Victoria Elementary School, Middleton Elementary School, etc…) to create new school gardens through the LAUSD SEEDS program.  I have partnered with EnrichLA to create eatable gardens on campuses so that our students can learn how important a healthy diet is.  I believe we need to expand our joint agreements with communities so that our gardens remain vibrant year round.  I believe a great example of this type of partnership is at Micheltorena Elementary School in Silverlake that has a community garden that is accessible to students and residents. Our schools are the heartbeats of the community and increasing the amount of school gardens will only enhance our already great schools.

4. What would you do to ensure that the Breakfast in the Classroom program is embraced by all involved (students, parents, teachers, administrators and Food Services)?

As a teacher, I know how important instructional time and breakfast are to students.  Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) is a critically important program and we need to continue to make it work as effectively as possible.  We need to speak with parents, as I have done with my healthy food coalition, to fully understand the concerns and improvements BIC needs.  We must actively engage our teachers and give them the necessary tools to discuss the importance of health during BIC.

5. Do you support healthy food carts outside of LAUSD schools?

When I would finish my day of teaching, I would often see my students buying “junk food” from vendors right outside campus.  Vendors who sell unhealthy foods near school campusus need to be banned because not only do they promote unhealthy eating habits, but they discourage students from having a healthy after school meal.  Although I am not opposed to healthy food vendors, I have yet to see a food vendor sell healthy foods near any school and I believe our students are better served eating and recreating on campus to ensure safety.