While schools are closed temporarily, students and families in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto will still have access to free meals provided by the public school districts.
Food distribution to students is considered an "essential" activity and can continue to operate despite new restrictions placed on non-essential activity, travel and business under a new shelter-in-place order announced by Bay Area public health officials on Monday afternoon. Food can only be provided for pickup and it can not be eaten at the locations where it's provided, the order states.
In Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, the meals will be distributed in a drive-thru model to reduce contact, meaning food service staff members will hand the food to families while they stay in their cars. Children must be present in order for the food to be provided, and each family is eligible for the quantity of meals equal to the number of children in the car. Both districts are asking families to stay in their cars and to avoid congregating when picking up meals.
Students in Palo Alto Unified's Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP) who live in East Palo Alto can pick up meals at Ravenswood schools and do not have to go to Palo Alto pickup sites. Ravenswood is offering meals to any students in East Palo Alto, regardless of whether they attend district schools.
From March 16 through April 3, Palo Alto Unified will provide free lunch to all children 18 and younger at the following sites:
• Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School, 480 E. Meadow Drive, Palo Alto.
• Gunn High School, 780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto.
• Greene Middle School, 750 N. California Ave., Palo Alto.
Lunch at these sites will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Palo Alto Unified is also delivering meals to students who live in the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park.
The Palo Alto school district provided over 600 meals on Tuesday, March 17, according to Superintendent Don Austin.
Ravenswood served more than 1,000 meals on Tuesday, according to the district.
From March 16 through May 1, Ravenswood will provide free breakfast and lunch for all students at the following locations:
• Belle Haven Elementary, 415 Ivy Drive, Menlo Park.
• Brentwood Academy, 2086 Clarke Ave., East Palo Alto.
• Costaño School, 2695 Fordham St., East Palo Alto.
• Los Robles-Ronald McNair Academy, 2033 Pulgas Ave., East Palo Alto.
• Ravenswood Middle School, 2450 Ralmar Ave., East Palo Alto.
• Willow Oaks Elementary, 620 Willow Road, Menlo Park.
The meals will be available for pick up between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday in the parking lot or bus lane at each participating school.
During spring break, during spring break (March 27-April 3), meals will be distributed at all school sites on Thursday March 26.
Ravenswood also will offer home delivery for families who cannot come to the schools. Those families can contact the district's transportation department at 650-329-2800, ext. 60172. The delivery windows on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday will be 7-8:30 a.m. for breakfast and 2:45-4:30 p.m. for lunch. The delivery windows on Wednesday will be 7-8:30 a.m. for breakfast and 12:45-2:30 p.m. for lunch.
Other agencies are distributing food in East Palo Alto. Second Harvest Food Bank will distribute food on Saturday, March 28, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cesar Chavez-Ravenswood Middle School. The East Palo Alto Boys & Girls Club will provide hot dinner meals Monday through Friday from 6-7 p.m., including during spring break.
The Ravenswood Education Foundation has launched an emergency fund to provide financial relief related to the school closures for families, teachers and staff. The district is working to identify needs for the funds, including food access and distribution; support with rent, bills and groceries for families; distance learning; and financial support for staff, particularly certificated, hourly employees. If emergency needs do not deplete the fund, donations will roll over to support district programs when school resumes. They had raised more than $150,000 as of Thursday, March 19.
Ravenswood is also looking for volunteers who speak Spanish and English to help teachers and families communicate during distance learning. Adults who are bilingual and available to be part of virtual conference calls with teachers and families can fill out this form.
With funding from Palo Alto residents Greg and Anne Avis, and the Opportunity Fund, Alicia's Tamales Los Mayas is providing 1,000 meals a week for 200 students at Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto. Students can pick up meals daily until the school's planned reopening in April.
Mountain View and Los Altos
Starting Wednesday, the Mountain View Whisman School District will be preparing lunches and breakfast for distribution to students who receive free and reduced-price meals within that district, the Los Altos School District and the Mountain View Los Altos High School District.
Students at the Mountain View Whisman and high school districts can pick up their meals at Gabriela Mistral Elementary School, 505 Escuela Ave., in Mountain View, between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. They won't be checking IDs and will offer the meals to children under 18 there every weekday until school reopens.
Students who receive free and reduced price meals in the Los Altos School District can pick up their meals, drive-thru style, at Egan Junior High School at 100 W. Portola Ave. in Los Altos between noon and 12:30 each day.
Menlo Park, Atherton and Woodside
The Menlo Park City School District is delivering meals to the homes of students on free or reduced-price lunch plans.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided to Sequoia Union High School District students who are in need of meals, according to the district's website. All school sites, which include TIDE Academy in Menlo Park, Woodside High School in Woodside and Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, will have packaged meals for student or parent pickup during the following times:
• Breakfast: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
• Lunch: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Students will be able to pick up lunch and the following day's breakfast after 10 a.m. To receive meals, students will need to provide their name, student identification number and the name of which school in the district they attend.
Bus drivers for the Las Lomitas Elementary School District – which has one school in Menlo Park and one in Atherton – will be delivering lunches to all its students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch daily starting today, Wednesday, March 18, Superintendent Beth Polito said in an email to The Almanac.
The Woodside Elementary School District has nearly 40 students who are eligible for its lunch program, Superintendent Steve Frank said in a March 17 email. Woodside is partnering with the Ravenswood school district for meal distribution, which began Monday and runs through March 26 when Ravenswood is off for spring break.
Families can pick up meals at Ravenswood schools through March 26. During the Ravenswood district's six-day spring break, the Woodside district will be delivering meals to students.
If the school closure runs beyond Woodside's spring break, which ends on April 13, Ravenswood will continue to provide lunch service, Frank said.
A San Mateo County health department order issued on March 13 to close all transitional kindergarten through 12th grade schools required all schools to dismiss students from regular attendance from March 16 to April 3. Facilities may be used by school districts to provide free and reduced price meals to students.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and Almanac here.