Fresno Unified continues distributing free meals despite Thanksgiving break

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- On this foggy Monday morning, the cafeteria staff at McLane High wanted to do some good.

While class is out for Thanksgiving break, they're passing out a week's worth of breakfast and lunch for families in need.

"I love to see just the moms, the kids smile," says Maria Cuenca. "We are here so they can have a meal and not worry about that."

As a mom, Mayra Silva knows all about that.

"There's quite a bit of us and with the pandemic, it's kind of hard," she said. "A lot of us are not working. I'm not working at the moment."

She says the meals mean so much to her family and allow them to enjoy the holiday.

"So we're here for my kids, they're going to have a good Thanksgiving," she said.

Fresno Unified distributing boxes filled to the brim at 18 different schools. One by one, more families lined up in their cars.

"We were doing okay and then just last month, it was really hard and we had some personal stuff going on with medical," says Desiree Hamilton. "It's really going to be very helpful to our family."

At McLane, the staff handed out more than 200 meals just in the first hour.

The school district began food drives during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

"Even though we're back in school, things are starting to open and kind of go back to normal, there still is a food access need," says Fresno Unified Nutrition Services Director Amanda Harvey. "So, just being able to see and support our community is the best part of it."

Fresno Unified is the third-largest school district in the state, according to the California Department of Education.

But many students come from low-income families -- just under 90 percent of students in the district are eligible for free-and-reduced lunches and 45 percent of families are below the federal poverty level.

So adding the pandemic stress to that, there's a lot of need this holiday season.
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