If this year has taught us anything amidst the uncertainties and hardships that seem to be piling on, it’s perhaps the unique power of kindness and its necessity. In a smaller town like Coronado it can be easier to see the way a community can come together and as we start a new school year off with new policies we’re still adjusting to, the Coronado Unified School District (CUSD) is stepping up for students and families in a strong way.

The Child Nutrition Services Department, led by Director Charity Campbell, has helped ensure families with children aged 1 to 18 are being served healthy breakfast and lunch meals in the face of distance learning since COVID-19 began affecting the community last spring. School board member Maria Simon remembers the affect this had as families faced new challenges with distance learning for the first time, “The Grab & Go meals program really stepped up for the community, especially in the early stages when there was still so much uncertainty and [Grab & Go meals] provided a continued connection to the school for students when they could see their principle and vice principle as they picked up their meals each week.”

Silver Strand Elementary School Principal Jenny Moore said, “We are pleased and proud to offer weekly meals for families in our district and at Silver Strand Elementary School. Besides offering nutrition and support to families, our weekly pickup was often the only glimpse we had of our families during quarantine. We are grateful for our child nutrition staff, who have worked extra hard during school closure to provide for families and who share good cheer along with meals.”

Others pitched in to make this program so effective and successful early on, including the Coronado Recreation Department, who volunteered to include fun Easter activities for kids in the spring, the Coronado Library who distributed pamphlets to drive awareness of the program around the community, and the police department who were integral to helping organize meal pick-ups in a manner that kept the process safe for both families and organizers on meal pick up days. Upwards of 8,300 meals were provided for students (a week’s worth of breakfasts and lunches) on a single pick-up day and the participation of the community to help make that happen was critical.

Over the summer, the Grab & Go Meal Service continued to serve families and was able to do so under a universal plan offering free meals for any child in the community 18 and under regardless if they were a student enrolled in CUSD specifically. Campbell and many others in Child Nutrition Services Departments for schools across the state have been fighting to keep this change into the fall semester to continue supporting families as the struggles of COVID-19 continue,.“We’re doing as much as possible to make sure the majority of families are getting meals,” said Campbell. “[Eligibility] is such a small cutoff and if all families can get it again, we are working towards this.”

Monday, Aug. 31, brought great news, as a result of the hard work of these departments, with the universal status of the Grab & Go Meal Service program being extended until Dec. 31 of 2020. Families will no longer have to apply for eligibility this semester and can pick up free meals for any of their children aged 18 and under each week until the end of 2020, effective immediately.

With the news of our schools being able to help feed our community in times of need, if you’re wondering how to give back, you can start by participating in the program if you have a child or children or helping spread the word to neighbors and friends who do. According to Campbell, “We would highly encourage families to come pick up this quality food for free; [when you do] that, it gives a good amount of money back to the program as well, to be used when schools open again to continue serving students the best quality meals.”

The Child Nutrition Services gets federal and state reimbursement for every student who comes to pick up meals. “The more kids come to pick up meals, the more money goes back into our program,” said Campbell.

Meals for CUSD and the Grab & Go program are carefully organized by the Child Nutrition Services Department to include fresh fruit and vegetables and as much locally sourced, organic options as possible to contribute to a well-balanced diet for each child.

Meals for the week can be picked up on Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m., while supplies last, in the multipurpose rooms at Silver Strand Elementary School, 1350 Leyte Road, and Village Elementary School, 600 Sixth Street, (line is on H Avenue, going towards Seventh Street). If for some reason that timeframe does not work, reach out to Campbell at charity.Campbell@coronadousd.net.

Please note there is no pick up on Monday holidays, including Labor Day.

For more information, instructions on how to pick up the Grab & Go Meals, and stay up to date on the Grab & Go Meal Service in Coronado, please visit the Child Nutrition Services website at https://coronadousd.net/departments/food-services-student-nutrition/

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