OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – A free food program that ended when the new school year began in Oakland is now back on.

The Oakland Unified School District’s Grab and Go student meal service is once again open to all Oakland children inside or outside OUSD.

“Now anybody in the city of Oakland who is 18 and younger, doesn’t matter if you go to a district run school, charter school, private school, not even old enough to go to school frankly, you are eligible to get food from us at OUSD,” John Sasaki said. 

In fact, OUSD spokesperson John Sasaki says during the previous six months there was no requirement of being a student to receive grab and go meals. 

Over 4-million meals were distributed during that time frame. That changed on the first day of the new school year.

“Once we hit August the new rules were in place and you had to prove that your child was one of our students from one of our schools, it dropped off 50% plus,” Sasaki said. 

Now the previous federal requirement of families having to prove that their child attends a district-run school is no longer the case, alleviating a concern for members of Oakland’s immigrant community.

“We have to make this very, very clear. We are a sanctuary district. Inside a sanctuary city. Inside a sanctuary state. That means we do not give private student family information to the federal government. That does not happen,” Sasaki said. 

This is a map of 22 different sites across the city where food is now being distributed Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Sasaki says OUSD is now getting back to helping Oakland residents fight food insecurity during the pandemic.

“Even in the best of times before we were hit by the pandemic more than 75% of our students qualified for free and reduced lunches, and we have all the other things we have been supplying, groceries and produce from the Alameda County Food Bank. Other sources of food including adult meals from our partner organizations in the city of Oakland. Obviously that need is there,” Sasaki said. 

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