A total of 19 schools are now offering free meals with a 20th location expected to open Friday on Treasure Island.
With so many families in San Francisco and around the Bay Area depending on the breakfast and lunch their kids are served at school each day, often for free or little cost to them, parents are grateful SFUSD is stepping in to fill the gap while school is out.
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"It's a blessing to be here," said Danielle Grayson, a parent to two young boys. "It's a blessing that they're doing this great program."
Look at these smiles! Elijah and James are getting the first couple of bags of food with breakfast, lunch, and supper inside at Willie Brown Jr Middle in SF. Here’s a link to the 18 other schools now offering free food for anyone 18 or younger in SF: https://t.co/4fMFi1czT7 pic.twitter.com/mfS8SV9wkS— Julian Glover (@JulianGABC7) March 19, 2020
"So many students are in need every day," said Jennifer LeBarre, executive director of Student Nutrition Services at SFUSD. "So many of our children rely on school meals and now that schools are not open that gap is even harder."
One after another kids and their caretakers walked right up to the table, keeping their distance from employees, to take advantage of the free program.
"It does help, you know. Because the grocery stores -- not too much in there" said Cecil Marks, who picked meals for his three grand children.
So what's on the menu? Today it's cereal for breakfast; protein bar, cheese sticks, and milk for lunch; and hummus, vegetables and other snacks for supper.
After picking up food, families were encouraged to pick up a book or two offered by the Children's Book Project to make sure the students' minds were fed too.
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"It was a nice surprise that they were giving out free books today," said Linda Tsang, who came to get meals with her two boys.
SFUSD is prepared to serve 8,000 children today with the ability to serve 30,000, said LeBarre.
The district is working on a plan to allow families to pick up meal kits for multiple days.
This would mean fewer trips and less of a chance of exposure to the virus.
There are also shelf-stable alternatives available for homeless families who can't refrigerate their meals.