St. George Community Center will offer free child care this week because of the school closures caused by the coronavirus. It will also continue to offer its usual food distribution services.
New Beginning Community Church and St. George Community Center, located at 1032 E. Mason St., will give medical workers, elder care workers and first responders priority because space constraints limited the program to around 60 children. The program will implement social distancing as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We know that there are many people that need to work and we know that at this moment we have been facing the secondary impacts of this virus in the community,” program volunteer Jacqueline Inda said.
“When there is a deed we always have to step if we can. That’s what makes us a community. Right now, our community needs so is we can do it and we have the ability to, we have to,” Ms. Inda said.
The program will run until local schools re-open or for as long as church resources allow. The church receives support from Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and Direct Relief. It will distribute food every day as long as supplies last.
Dozens of people came to the church for food on Sunday afternoon.
Ms. Inda said the church provides food to between 80-90 families every day.
“We know that people are scrambling to get to stores and fill up those refrigerators to support their kids who are going to stay home,” said Ms. Inda.
The program will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the church community center.
Program leaders will choose activities based on the age range of the group, but Ms. Inda said the program will include physical education.
“We will make sure that we have a drop in basis when you come in. It is free of charge. We will be working very closely with partners to make sure we have qualified people to do science and art activities,” Ms. Inda said.
New Beginning Pastor Jerry Menchaca urged parishioners to let their faith sustain them during the outbreak.
“Stay calm, don’t let fear dictate what you do. We’re looking not to react, but respond to the needs of our community.”
Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education clerk Rose Munoz said the district is offering free bagged lunches to students during the school closures. Parents can pick up lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 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 and Goleta Valley Junior High. Parents and caregivers must bring their students to receive the lunch. They can pick up their lunch from their car curbside.
“The nutrition of our students is important to us…we want to make it available to our parents to keep costs down. We realize it’s expensive to feed your kids when they’re home all day unexpectedly,” said Ms. Munoz.