New Initiatives Provide Free ‘Grab and Go’ Groceries and Meals in Napa Valley

Local organizations are working hard to help feed those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Napa Valley has a long history of doing good and, as the coronavirus crisis expands, the Wine Country region’s response to COVID-19 is taking shape in inspirational ways.

OLE Health, for example, has expanded its outreach services in the past few weeks. The Napa Valley health care provider is organizing a series of free grocery pickups with the next one scheduled for this Saturday, April 11. Bagged food will be available for drive-through pickup at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley at 1515 Pueblo Avenue in Napa. The event starts at noon and will run until supplies last. Pet food will also be available for those who need it.

Saturday’s event is the third of its kind. Two previous grocery pickups held in late March and early April reportedly served a combined 9,000 community members.

The outreach is being led by OLE Health but support is coming from a number of local organizations and donors, including Grocery Outlet, Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, and Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza. The Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley has provided their location and volunteers for the grocery pickup events.

Founded in 1972 by a small group of volunteers to provide healthcare services to vineyard workers, OLE Health now serves more than 39,000 patients in Napa and Solano Counties each year.

“Our patients represent the most vulnerable in our communities – often un- or under-insured, living below the poverty line and met with many barriers to accessing health care,” said Alicia Hardy, OLE Health CEO. “Our number one priority is continuing to serve our patients while minimizing direct patient contact and adhering to social distancing.”

There’s no confirmation yet on whether the free grocery pickups will become a regular event, but OLE Health also holds a monthly Fruits & Veggies Day on the third Friday of every month. It provides free fruits and vegetables to patients and the local community. The next event is scheduled for April 17 at 2 p.m. at Ole Health, 1141 Pear Tree Lane, in Napa. (Follow OLE Health’s Facebook page for the latest information; specifics can change quickly.)

The organization’s annual ¡SALUD! Celebration and fundraiser, originally scheduled to take place Saturday, March 28, was cancelled so online donations are more appreciated than ever.

When schools are closed, the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley would typically be open to welcome and feed young people. Although the pandemic has kept the organization’s clubhouses and school sites closed, many employees have stayed busy. On March 23, for example, the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley started offering a grab-and-go afternoon snack and hot supper.

Served Monday through Friday, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., the free meals are offered to all youth, up to 18 years old. No paperwork is being checked, kids just need to be present.

Pickups take place at two locations: The Napa Clubhouse, at 1515 Pueblo Avenue in Napa, and the American Canyon Clubhouse, at 60 Benton Avenue in American Canyon.

Walkup pickup, with social distancing precautions is available, but a majority of pickups are drive through. Between the two sites, The Boys & Girls Club estimates it is feeding 200 to 250 kids every weekday.

“In our experience the kids are in the car with windows rolled up,” said Anya Elidi-Stubbs, Area Director at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley. “It’s a family outing that’s safe within their car.”

It’s also allowed for staff and kids to wave and smile to one another, offering a welcome moment of connection for everyone.

Support for the snack and hot supper service is coming from a federally funded, state administered program, but the Boys & Girls Club is looking to expand the service to include activity packs and school supplies, so online monetary donations are welcome.

Full details can be found on The Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley’s Facebook page.