School lunch program ends July 17
Update: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley is now offering free meal packages for children. Packages consist of five breakfasts and five lunches, available for pick up on Mondays at the Maxwell Regional Park location between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Though Sonoma’s school district will stop serving meals on Friday, there are still places in and around Sonoma Valley where families can get free prepared food and groceries.
“We have been operating a drive-through meal service since March 23 and have handed out more than 100,000 meals,” said Kristen Tekell, food service manager for Sonoma Valley Unified School District. “The largest number of meals we handed out in one day during all this was 1,850 meals.”
The district typically serves summer meals to students “only enrolled in summer school,” Tekell said. “They were served to students when they were on campus doing their summer school. Last year's records show about 350 lunches and 325 breakfasts were served per day.”
The difference is coronavirus. The district stepped up its food offerings to help those in the community who might be out of work or working fewer hours and finding it financially difficult to make ends meet.
The district has been serving breakfast and lunch to any child 18 and under, Tekell said, and they have been averaging 400 breakfasts and 400 lunches handed out per day.
Bruce Abbott, associate superintendent said earlier in the shelter-in-place order that there may have been people coming to pick up free food who were not of the appropriate age, and maybe some people took more food than what the district’s guidelines were. He said at the time that if someone was there and looking for food, they probably needed it and the district wasn’t going to turn away anyone who was hungry.
The Boys & Girls Club is handing out meal packages every Monday now through August 10 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the club’s location in Maxwell Regional Park. The packages -- five breakfasts and five lunches -- are intended for children, but kids do not have to be present when picking up.
There is a list of places for families to go in and around Sonoma Valley to get prepared meals or groceries to take home on the website of Redwood Empire Food Bank and the City of Sonoma food assistance calendar. Some of the meals and food distribution is allocated for senior citizens; the fact box attached to this story lists where people of any age can go for food.