Fresno EOC Head Start 0 to 5 is providing meals, snacks and curriculum for over 3,000 enrolled prenatal women and children. While Head Start and Early Head Start Centers remain closed, a partnership with Fresno EOC Transit Systems and Food Services is making it possible for families to pick up meals including breakfast, lunch and snack for five days a week.
“We are trying our best to meet the needs of our community to offset the strain on families, while they have kids home for longer periods,” Sara Lopez, Early Head Start Assistant Director said. “We understand there is a strain on families as children are staying home and while we are still sheltering in place.”
The meals ensure children do not go hungry by providing breakfast, lunch, and snack five days a week. By April 10, 90,000 meals and 45,000 snacks will be provided for children and their families. Even children in the Home Base option, who received instruction at home and did not previously eat at sites, are now receiving meals.
Head Start 0 to 5 continues to consult with their registered dietitian to provide balanced meals for children as if sites remained opened. “We are providing the same nutrition for enrolled participants who would have received food with us as if we were open.” Lopez said. Staff are also preparing take-home packets children and families to complete during the week. This is a way for children to continue reaching school-readiness goals and to monitor their progress. With weekly packets, staff can accommodate to children with special needs and offer assistance while working from home.
“We continue to make changes to our services daily in order to better meet the needs of the individual families during this time,” Rosa Pineda, Head Start Assistant Director, said. “We want to meet them where they are at and help them to access resources as needed.”
Head Start programs across the country are removing barriers and meeting the needs of affected children and families during times of crisis. These programs serve a critical role in the recovery of impacted communities.
“I would like the acknowledge the Office of Head Start for authorizing programs to continue services to children and families during the COVID–19 pandemic,” Kathleen Shivaprasad, Head Start Director 0 to 5, said. “While we temporarily adapt our direct service program to a remote services model, Fresno EOC can continue to support families. Parents and children have responded positively to the services we have been able to provide and staff have continued their commitment to supporting our clients, creatively and innovatively.”
Head Start 0 to 5 is a no-cost education program serving low-income children and their families. Fresno EOC has provided comprehensive child development services through the Head Start program since 1965. Learn more about Early Head Start and Head Start.