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  • Writer's pictureElyse Homel Vitale

At-Risk Program, Oceanside, CA

When the pandemic hit, low-income families in Oceanside were plunged into fear and uncertainty. Many lost their jobs, and along with them, the resources required to meet basic needs. Even prior to the pandemic, 91% of our youth were eligible for free and reduced lunch. While wealthier families were hunkering down and stockpiling supplies, our parents were struggling to keep their children fed.

On May 4th, we launched our Emergency Food Program (EFP), in order to combat rising food insecurity associated with business and school closures. Each week day, the EFP provides nutritious, home-cooked meals to any community youth, 18 and under. Each curbside pickup includes a healthy lunch and snack, made with fresh ingredients, specifically selected to ensure that youth receive the nutrition they need to thrive and grow. In addition, Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside provides meals to at-risk youth attending our program on-site.

To date, this amazing program has provided over 46,000 meals to community youth. For many, the proximity of our Club to their homes has made all the difference during the pandemic. This is especially true for one mother who lives in the low-income apartments adjacent to the Club. Every day, she and her five-year-old son walk just a few hundred feet to pick up lunches for him and his sister. Earlier in the pandemic, she was struggling to make ends meet and in order to return to work, she needed proof of a negative COVID test. However, for several months, because she doesn’t own a car and has a child who requires close supervision due to a health condition, she was unable to complete this requirement. This left her with little income and no way to access other community resources. She relied on meals from the Club to feed her children.

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