The Livermore schools lunch program has served more than 125,000 meals since March to students who usually receive free school lunches, filling in a gap since campuses had to close to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Besides serving up to three meals a day at four sites, the lunch program has aided others in need due to economic difficulties. It’s also become a conduit for special donations from various organizations and businesses wanting to help their neighbors.
Staff and volunteers enable drive-thru, curbside pickup for breakfast and lunch at four sites: Junction Avenue K-8 School, Marylin Avenue Elementary School, and East Avenue and Christensen middle schools. They provide supper at Junction and Marilyn, taking the place of meals provided during after-school programs. And unlike other years, the service will continue through the summer.
“We’ve always served breakfast at some sites and lunch at all sites, and this emergency took all of that away,” said Dana Dodge, child nutrition director for Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD).
Now they’re able to serve free meals to any children 18 and under without asking for identification.
“Of course, we have to follow a lot of procedures, but loosening up the rules makes feeding the community seamless,” Dodge said. “This has brought my team together, and people are stepping up.”
As of last week, they had served 125,771 meals since schools closed in March.
Several community organizations and business have donated to the program, including:
• Wente Foundation for Arts Education: 1,200 art supply kits
• The Taylor Foundation: $30,000 in Lucky grocery gift cards
• Casa Orozco: Provided 50 meals daily April 6-10 to families at Junction
• Starbucks on Airway: Daily donations of pastries, bagels, protein boxes, sandwiches and coffee
• Rotary Club of Livermore: 1,000 thermometers by Kinsa
• Fertile GroundWorks: Fresh, organic produce from their garden
• Girl Scouts: 2,000 boxes of cookies
• Safeway: 3,700 paper bags
• The CORE Group: 300 reusable bags
• Alameda County Community Food Bank: 300 grab-and-go food bags
• See’s Candies: Candy to give away at the sites
• National Charity League, Livermore chapter: Decorated lunch bags to brighten everyone’s day.
“The art kits from Wente brought a smile to so many faces,” Dodge said. “The gift cards from The Taylor Foundation were so generous — people really couldn’t believe it. And we were surprised by the beautiful, fresh produce from Fertile GroundWorks that we weren’t expecting at all.”