You are the owner of this article.
Napa Valley Unified receives grant to help feed needy students
Nutrition

Napa Valley Unified receives grant to help feed needy students

From the Coronavirus roundup from the Napa Valley Register, St. Helena Star, and The Weekly Calistogan series
NVUSD free meal during coronavirus

A food service employee with Napa Valley Unified School District prepares boxes for students. Even though schools are closed, students can still receive free breakfast and lunch for every day of the school week. 

Students may no longer be able to take tests, play sports or roam the halls of their schools, but they can still rely on the schools for healthy, nutritious meals.

Napa Valley Unified School District is providing about 13,000 meals per week to students at its four emergency feeding sites at Redwood Middle, Napa High, Shearer Elementary, and American Canyon Middle as well as two drop-off locations and a program of home delivery for especially high-risk and high-need individuals.

“The number of students on the free and reduced meal program in our school district on a normal day is over 50 percent. During times like this, everything is just exacerbated, and there’s a tremendously high need,” said Brandy Dreibelbis, director of food services for NVUSD.

Entering its sixth week, how the district is feeding its students has evolved along with the crisis. Students used to pick up food daily. But to limit exposure, Dreibelbis made the decision to switch to twice-weekly pick-ups.

On Monday through Wednesday, students get one breakfast and one lunch each of those three days.

On Thursday, they receive two of each of those meals.

“It’s an enormous amount of food,” Dreibelbis said after serving Monday. She said students that day received fresh fruit, baby carrots, small cartons of milk, breakfast pastries and granola bars and a chicken salad sandwich, a burrito and a bean and cheese dip with two tortillas.

The extensive feeding program is made possible, in part, by a $25,000 grant received from No Kid Hungry. The organization, which ordinarily works closely with schools to ensure children are receiving adequate healthful food, is spearheading a nationwide campaign to fill the nutrition gap exacerbated by coronavirus school closures. In California alone, the organization has allocated nearly $1.3 million to 41 different non-profits and school districts.

“The school closures have tremendous implications on families, particularly families who struggle even in the best of times,” said Kathy Saile, the California director of the No Kid Hungry campaign. “We saw immediately that families were still going to rely on those meals, and now that the crisis has evolved into an economic crisis, the meals are that much more important.”

According to Dreibelbis, most of the grant money is going towards the food offerings that, in addition to the regular meals, also include some produce bags and non-perishable pantry bags for families in need. Though federal funding offsets some of the cuts, it’s not nearly enough, both she and Saile said.

The grant money assists with labor. Dreibelbis said all food service employees are getting paid, even if they’re not working a full schedule. Saile added that some individuals may receive hazard pay or work overtime hours depending on their capacity, so grant money can provide those extra dollars.

A small portion is also helping with the cost packaging.

“Everything in this situation has to be served to-go style and curbside. Bringing in packaging was a whole new thing for us,” Dreibelbis said.

The additional funding has been “very helpful” to Dreibelbis in managing the high price of continuing to feed Napa students who can’t secure sufficient food elsewhere, a group that’s seemingly growing in size every week, she says.

“This pandemic is calling attention to the fact that there are millions of children in our country that rely on the national school and breakfast programs to get meals each day, and Napa is no exception,” Dreibelbis said. “When families aren’t working and kids aren’t in school, it’s so important that we still continue to feed our students and take of them.”

Editor’s note: Because of the health implications of the COVID-19 virus, this article is being made available free to all online readers. If you’d like to join us in supporting the mission of local journalism, please visit napavalleyregister.com/members/join/

You may reach Carly Graf at cgraf@napanews.com; 713-817-4692; or via Twitter @carlykgraf.

Concerned about COVID-19?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

City of Napa reporter

Carly Graf covers Napa city government and community issues. She received her master’s degree from Northwestern University in Chicago. She most recently worked for a news outlet in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News