These past eight months have been incredibly hard for hundreds of thousands families. During this pandemic, many people have lost their jobs and are struggling to support themselves and their families. Despite the lockdown and the closing of schools in Castro Valley, the Castro Valley Unified School District has been giving out meals to students who need them, while also helping kids and parents get a break from their homes.
In a week with lunch and breakfast combined, the CVHS cafeteria gives out about 2,600 meals. Six district sites give out an average of 1,500 meals a day.
When asked how it feels to help the community, CVHS cafeteria manager Raquel Gonzalez said, “We don’t just feed kids, we encourage students, we are a listening ear, and another person to go to. We try to help socially and emotionally as best we can.”
So far, many students have made videos and sent messages appreciating the staff working and preparing meals. One neighbor even brought in flowers to show gratitude for them.
Gonzalez believes that this service is helping many people in more ways than just one. While still helping the kids and families who need the food, the grab and go bagged meals are a way for students to get out of the house in a safe and easy way, especially for elementary school students. It also could help give caretakers of younger kids a break so they don’t have to cook. It is important to have something normal in students’ lives with all that the world is going through right now, and this is a great opportunity for kids to simply just see a friendly face from school.
Normally the CVHS kitchen usually has about 18 staff members working but because of the pandemic, only five staff members are working, cleaning, masking, and social distancing as much as possible. The new process of serving students is very different and hard for the servers in the cafeteria. This way of giving meals is a lot less personal, but in the end the kids are getting food and getting out, and that is what matters the most to the staff in the kitchen.
“I don’t look at it so much as we are helping the community. I believe the community is helping us!” Gonzalez said.