The school year may have drawn to a close, but local districts are continuing to serve meals free of charge to all children in the community.
The Gustine and Newman-Crows Landing unified school districts have each launched summer feeding programs to make nutritious meals available to all children ages 1-18.
The meal programs have evolved in response to the pandemic, with the over-arching goal of continuing to meet nutritional needs in the community.
In the Newman-Crows Landing district, nearly one million meals have been served since last March. Caralyn Mendoza, the district’s chief business official, said she anticipates hitting the million-meal milestone sometime in August.
“I think we have made an impact. People have demonstrated that the need is there,” she commented. “They keep coming. As long as they keep showing up, we will keep showing up, too.”
Students enrolled in summer camps are served breakfast and lunch on campus through the duration of that program. Curbside pickup of lunch and breakfast for the following day is available at two elementary campuses. The district also delivers to select areas, such as Fisherman’s Bend and the Mustang Peak Apartments. Weekend meals are also provided, Mendoza noted.
“We know that we have some really needy areas, and we try to target those, especially in the summer months,” she stated. “There are people who really depend on it.”
Gustine Unified will be serving grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meals to students on campus for summer school, said Jason Lugo, the Sodexo food services manager assigned to the district.
Gustine’s curbside meal pickup program has been modified this year to offer weekly distribution of seven-day meal kits (breakfast and lunch). Meal kits will be distributed each Friday through the end of July.
Lugo said the Gustine district has also been dedicated to provide as much community support as possible since the pandemic struck more than a year ago.
Many families, he said, rely on the meals being distributed by the district.
“When the pandemic hit we were really trying to find out what the priorities were. Clearly, that was feeding the community,” Lugo commented. “We want them to know that we are here for them in any way we can be.”
The Newman-Crows Landing district will distribute meals from noon to 12:30 weekdays at Hurd Barrington Elementary and Von Renner Elementary schools. Meals are available from 9-9:30 a.m. at Mustang Peak Apartments; 9:45-10:15 a.m. at Fisherman’s Bend and Martin’s Mobile Home Park; and 10:30 a.m. at Catfish Camp. The district also provides delivery to recipients in Crows Landing and Diablo Grande. Those not currently on that route may call 862-2158 to schedule delivery. That schedule is through June 29.
Gustine Unified will be distributing meal bags each Friday through July 31. Meals may be picked up from 9-9:45 a.m. at Henry Miller Park; 10-10:45 at Pioneer Park; 11-11:45 at the Grove Avenue parking lot of Gustine Elementary; and 11-11:45 a.m. at Romero Elementary in Santa Nella.