As of Monday, only children will be eligible for free meals picked up at Fresno Unified schools as the district ends the practice of feeding all comers, officials announced Thursday.
But no grown-ups should go hungry. Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson said nonprofits and community-based organizations are already providing meals across Fresno and the county to meet the needs of adults.
Nelson said adults who show up at a school early next week will still get a meal for a few more days at least, and they’ll also be provided information about how and where they can obtain food.
“We’ve not fed them for the better part of a year to jam anyone now,” he said.
The district has prepared flyers in English, Spanish, and Hmong that will be distributed at school sites, is notifying parents by email about the change, and also has posted a billboard at Manchester Center and Highway 41, district spokeswoman Amy Idsvoog said.
Other Organizations Provide Food
At a virtual news conference Thursday, Nelson introduced some of the local organizations that are already providing food for families: Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, Central California Food Bank, Every Neighborhood Partnership, and the Fresno Metro Ministry.
Fresno Unified had provided free meals for all after the start of the pandemic in mid-March last year, and Nelson said that of the 10 million meals served since then, 1 million went to adults.
The district is reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for student meals and initially covered the adult meals out of its general fund. The city of Fresno then stepped in and provided federal CARES Act dollars for the adult meals.
City Allocates Funds to Other Programs
But the city recently decided to curtail providing those funds to the district and allocated some funding to area nonprofits to provide food.
People can use a locator map on the Central California Food Bank website to find nearby food distribution locations, said chief executive officer Natalie Caples.
She said the food bank has a new appointment-based program, Groceries To Go, with options for delivery or pickup at the food bank headquarters or other sites.
Those who lack access to the internet can call the food bank at (559) 237-3663 or the United Way’s 211 hotline, Caples said.
Every Neighborhood Partnership has partnered with the food bank and is continuing to work with churches, food pantries, and other organizations to make food available to those in need, executive director Andrew Feil said.
“We have residents that are feeding their own community,” he said.