Woman making school sandwiches
The United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County staff helps make sandwiches for some students Monday after the closures of Santa Barbara County schools for public health reasons. (Contributor photo)

Pouring rain in Santa Barbara County on Monday didn’t stop efforts to ensure students had access to healthy meals despite closures of school campuses due to the novel coronavirus.

With closures spanning from Carpinteria to Santa Maria, educators and others scrambled to provide meals for students.

“We recognize that the closure of schools has a tremendous impact on our community,” Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Salcido said.  “School districts are working with internal staff as well as working collaboratively across districts and other external organizations to provide nutritious meals for youth throughout Santa Barbara County.”

Day one of the shutdown due to public health saw schools establish walk-up and drive-thru options as workers in rain gear raced to make deliveries of recently prepped food.

“The weather was just horrific today to come out and get meals,” said Michael Baker, chief executive officer for the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County which serves areas from Carpinteria to Lompoc.

He began Monday very early in Lompoc and moved on to other sites served by the club.

“Some districts have a food program happening still and we’re just supplementing that as needed,” he said.

Lompoc’s food program will continue, but Solvang’s and Buellton’s sites may stop Wednesday, prompting plans for the Boys & Girls Club to supplement those locales. 

The Boys & Girls Club helped prep meals for Carpinteria and Santa Barbara Westside on Monday, with more expected Tuesday.

Helper offers food to waiting car

An employee at Rice Elementary School in Santa Maria runs through the rain to deliver three bag lunches on Monday. (Contributor photo)

“Every day’s going to be different,” Baker added. “We’ll be prepared for as many lunches as we need, but we just don’t know how many we’re going to need any given day.

“The longer it goes, I think the demand’s going to go higher to be honest with you because people are going to be more in need,” Baker said, who said his family was poor, making him “one of those kids.”

“If it wasn’t for the free breakfast and lunch program at schools I didn’t eat, so I’m really adamant about food in our clubs. … This is going be closed for potentially a long time.”

Late last week plans called for schools to close this Wednesday due to public health concerns. 

However, identification of the county’s first case led to the decision late Sunday to cancel classes Monday and Tuesday, cutting into the time to plan and implement meal programs.

At the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, some 14,000 students normally take advantage of free- and reduced meals, spokeswoman Maggie White said.

On the first day of the meal giveaway, they gave out 3,358 meals, White added. 

“Which is pretty good. It was pouring here at lunchtime,” she said. 

School district also worked to provide Chromebooks, reading books, workbooks and more to help feed student’s minds during the closure, according to White.

Information about free meal programs, for anyone 18 years or younger, can be found below with updates on district websites if modifications must be made.

» Santa Barbara Unified — Bagged meals may be picked up from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following sites: Adams Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Harding Elementary, Monroe Elementary, Dos Pueblos High School, San Marcos High School, Santa Barbara High School, La Cumbre Junior High, La Colina Junior High, Goleta Valley Junior High. 

Parents and caregivers should plan on driving their children to any of these sites and picking up meals from their car curbside. Alternately, they can walk up to the meal cart to receive their meal to take home. Children must be present in order to receive the meal.

» Carpinteria Unified — Beginning Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. sack lunches will be available with curbside pickup at the following school sites: Aliso, Canalino/Carpinteria Family School, Carpinteria Middle School, Carpinteria High School/Rincon.

» Cuyama Joint Unified — A “Summer Meal” plan will be provided to all Cuyama students for the duration of the closure at their two school locations.

» Goleta Union — Free grab-and-go meals will be available Monday through Thursday, at Ellwood, La Patera, El Camino, Isla Vista Elementary Schools, and the Goleta Valley Community Center.  A bagged breakfast and lunch will both be available for pick up at the same time from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students must be present and can receive two meals in one trip.

Goleta students can also access meals through the Santa Barbara Unified’s meal program at Dos Pueblos High School, Goleta Valley Junior High School and San Marcos High School. Additional meal distribution sites are planned for Goleta communities if school closures continue.

» Guadalupe Union — Free meals at their two school sites with breakfast offered from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch offered from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. during the week. 

» Hope School — Brown bag lunches will be available on the tables outside the office at each campus from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday.   

» Lompoc Unified — Grab-and-go meals offered at any school sites with student IDs not required. Breakfast will be served from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Buena Vista, Clarence Ruth, Crestview, Fillmore, Hapgood, La Canada, La Honda, Lompoc Valley Middle School and Los Berros.

» Los Olivos — Los Olivos is working with community partners to provide groceries for free and reduced lunch families.

» Montecito Union — Students who receive free and reduced lunch are able to go to any of the sites served by Santa Barbara Unified to pick up their meals.

» Orcutt Union — Breakfast and lunch meals handed out at a walk-up or drive-thru pick-up service for children 18 and under, regardless of what school they attend or if they are on the meal program. Children must be present in order for meals to be provided.

Breakfast and lunch will be available for pick-up Monday through Friday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.at Orcutt Junior High, Lakeview Junior High, Patterson Road Elementary, all in Orcutt, plus Olga Reed/Orcutt Academy Charter School campus in Los Alamos.

» Santa Maria-Bonita — On Tuesday, lunch will be provided at students’ nearest school site at the regularly scheduled times. Students may pick up meals and then take them home. On Wednesday, both breakfast and lunch meals will be made available with students at any school served by buses able to pick up meals at bus stops where they normally wait. If a campus does not have buses, lunches can be picked up at the school site.

» Santa Maria Joint Union High School District — Starting Tuesday, breakfast and lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a walk-up or drive-thru service near the cafeteria for students regardless of what school they attend or if they are on the meal program. Students must be present in order for meals to be provided. Students will be able to receive their meals at their closest comprehensive high school: Santa Maria, Pioneer Valley, and Ernest Righetti.   

» Santa Ynez Valley schools — Plans were being finalized to establish a grab and go lunch option for students, with details to be announced shortly.   

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is also supporting community nutrition with expanded distributions, with a complete list of distribution sites listed here: https://foodbanksbc.org/get-help/.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.