School district's food distribution site creates delivery jobs, offers lifeline to those in need

At Castlemont High School, food service workers are preparing lunch, usually a week's worth for some 12,000 Oakland public school students in need.

Included in the boxes of lunch is fresh produce for the student's family as well. The pandemic has made hard financial times even harder.

But the school district has changed the way it was getting all this food to the students and families.

Up until recently, a family member had to go to a specific site and pick up the food, either by foot or by car.

But for many people that was a problem, especially in the pandemic.

"When the regular school year started, parents were having to stay home with their kids, helping them with Zoom learning. It was really hard for them to get out to those walk-ups, drive-through sites," Donnie Barclift, nutrition services supervisor for the Oakland Unified School District.

School district officials decided that if students or relatives can't come to the food, the food can come to them from delivery drivers the district has hired from the community.

"It's pretty cool to interact with people and hand people food when they need it at this time. People are struggling," said driver Braheim Himed.

The drivers deliver daily across Oakland, bringing lunches the students would normally get at school if the schools were open.

Many of the drivers have lost their jobs during COVID.

One driver worked for UPS. Now he helps make ends meet by delivering food to students and their families.

"I feel good. It's paying me. Keeping my family fed. And I'm helping feed other families as well," said driver Eric Yanez.

Students can sign up for home delivery at