The Coast News Group
Jeff and Tracey Barker have organized a food drive consisting of families in the Carlsbad Unified School District donating bags of food to families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Steve Puterski

Carlsbad Unified parents spearhead family-to-family food drive

CARLSBAD — The rain was not going to stop several volunteers from distributing food to families in need.

On April 9, Tracey and Jeff Barker put on their fourth food distribution at Carlsbad High School for needy families and students in the Carlsbad Unified School District. Tracey Barker said once the district suspended school attendance and that they were still distributing daily lunches to all kids 18 and under, she knew more would be needed.

As a member of the Aviara Oaks Elementary School Parent Teachers Association, she put out a call for help from friends, family and others at the school. The response saw 52 bags of food, but 75 families showed up for the first week, which led Barker to expand to a districtwide call for more donations.

“It just completely blew up,” Tracey Barker said. “If you build it they will come. I truly believe everyone wants to help, but some don’t know how to help.”

Since mid-March, the Barkers have held three other donation drives with plans to continue until the stay-at-home orders are lifted.

Families in the Carlsbad Unified School District donated more than 100 bags of food on April 9 to benefit other families in the district struggling from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Steve Puterski

Tracey Barker, though, said the purpose is for district families to donate to other families in the district struggling to make ends meet. She said her concern when starting this drive, was for the students who are on the free-and-reduced lunch programs and making sure they have food over the weekend.

Each family donates one bag of groceries, which has enough food for several meals.

“When this shutdown started, I was super relieved that they were going to do the free lunches every day,” Barker said of the CUSD program. “But I thought this would be an even harder time for those families.”

The program has grown rapidly she said, noting the second week gathered 75 bags. However, 97 families showed up. In the third week, 132 bags were donated for 125 families.

On April 9, at least 112 bags of food were donated, Barker said. Also, one of Barker’s friends made Easter bags for the families filled with chocolate bunnies and other candy.

As for the bags, the more popular items are pasta, sauce, peanut butter and jelly, bread, cheese and milk. Also, Barker added apples, bananas, oranges and avocados.

She’s also tracking the schools the families are from in an effort to streamline communication in case they are not reaching families at a specific school.

“This is totally families helping families,” Barker said.

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