Standing with Oakland's Black Community, Expanding Food Distributions, and Keeping Seniors Movin'

Posted: June 15th, 2020 3:40 PM

Last Updated: June 16th, 2020 12:24 PM

Summer Food Service Program packs fresh produce to distribute.

Human Services Department, June 2020

Message from the Director

These are extraordinary times about which there will be books written, stories told for generations, and hopefully history rewritten. COVID-19 required us all to make radical changes in our daily lives. Justice demands we make radical change in our systems that perpetuate oppression and racism. The Human Services Department stands united with the demonstrators and Black Lives Matter. We are prepared to listen and commit ourselves to the struggle. This moment should not be lost.

I am proud to be part of a community of professionals who have undertaken racial equity work. Over the past three years, our ReCast project has led our work internally on racial equity and developing a trauma informed workplace and system of care. From Emerging Black Leaders training through Emotional Intelligence sessions for managers to Youth Mini Grants, there has been a focused effort to build our ability to speak and support racial equity. We have more to do. And we have a team that never ceases its commitment to the Oakland community.

- Sara Bedford

Explore the Images Below!

Warriors Player Juan Toscano-Anderson Organizes “Walking in Unity”

Juan Toscano-Anderson, Golden State Warriors forward and East Oakland native, organized a two-day successful and peaceful demonstration called "Walking in Unity."

On Wednesday, June 3rd, over 1,000 people gathered at Lake Merritt to honor George Floyd and speak out against police brutality and systemic racism against people of color in the United States. On Saturday, June 6th, over 5,000 people marched through West Oakland, raising awareness about the impact of gentrification on West Oakland residents. On both days, Toscano-Anderson was joined by some of his teammates: "It meant a lot to my community, but it also showed my community that it’s deeper than just hoops, these guys don’t just share a locker room....Just people being out there, supporting us, sharing their voice with us, that meant a lot."

Juan Toscano-Anderson is the son of the Human Services Department’s Patricia Toscano, who works at the East Oakland Senior Center. Find out more about the event through Warriors social media, or from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Organizations Empowering Oakland’s Black Community

There are so many black-led and Oakland-based organizations to learn about and support. Here are just a few that are empowering the black community and speaking out against police violence.

Oakland Youth Vote on the Ballot this November

This November, Oakland voters will decide if Oakland youth ages 16-17 can vote in School Board elections for the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). If the voters approve the measure, Oakland would be the fifth city in the nation to allow youth to vote in local elections.

The youth-led measure, Oakland Youth Vote, was unanimously approved by Oakland City Council on May 19th, 2020. The Oakland Youth Advisory Commission (OYAC) has tirelessly supported this initiative by writing letters, attending Council meetings, and educating community-based organizations about the measure. This is a critical step towards supporting youth voice and youth power in our community.

Don't forget to register to vote in the November 2020 election.

Free Meals Provided through Summer Food Service Program

The City of Oakland’s Summer Food Service Program is now open, offering free nutritious meals during the summer while schools are closed. Parents or guardians can pick up free meals for kids 18 years of age and under & adults with disabilities enrolled in a school program. There are distribution centers throughout Oakland, with options for every day of the week. For more information and to find out where you can access food during the summer, visit the city’s resource page for food distribution in Oakland.

Family Matters Shelter Open for Families

The new Family Matters Shelter at a former recreation center in Emeryville will provide safety and stability for up to 25 families, including fathers with children, along with resources and services to help families find and access more permanent housing. The Family Matters Shelter welcomes any families that include an adult with a child under the age of 18. During COVID-19, occupancy will be limited to 10 families to allow each family to be safely distanced from one another.

This shelter is an important step towards supporting families out of homelessness in Alameda County. Every night there are an estimated 120 unsheltered families living on the streets, in tents or cars, in the North Alameda County area (Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, and Piedmont). The shelter is a partnership between the City of Oakland and the City of Emeryville, and will be operated by the East Oakland Community Partnership (EOCP), an experienced homeless services agency in Oakland.

Head Start Celebrates the End of the Year

The City of Oakland’s Head Start program celebrated families and staff at the end of the school year with a celebratory drive-past parade for families. The staff decorated cars and formed a car parade that looped throughout Oakland using a map with families’ home addresses, honking, playing music, and celebrating families as they drove past. Head Start also celebrated its incredible staff in a 100+ person Zoom call, demonstrating this team’s adaptability and perseverance during the shelter-in-place. Congratulations to our families and staff on making it to the end of the school year!

Head Start is accepting enrollment for next year. Visit to find out more about the program and apply, or call (510) 238-3165. Head Start offers free early childhood education and prenatal care for low-income families in Oakland. APPLY NOW!

Downtown Oakland Senior Center is Keeping it Movin’

Check out the Downtown Oakland Senior Center’s YouTube Channel! The senior center is serving its 900+ members through guided online videos including Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Stretching, and Tai Chi. You can also find information about coping with social isolation and how to keep your pets healthy during the shelter-in-place. The channel is growing all the time—Like and Subscribe to find out more!

LIFE Elder Care Delivers Grocery Bags to Seniors

LIFE Elder Care is delivering grocery bags to Oakland seniors each week. The program usually focuses on getting seniors out of the house, but with the shelter-in-place, the program has adapted to meet the needs of seniors at home. The food is sorted and bagged by community volunteers, and delivered to seniors and disabled residents throughout Oakland. To enroll, call Liz Hillen: (510) 982-6091 for Oakland residents or LIFE Elder Care: (510) 856-9010 for Alameda County residents outside of Oakland. Participants must be age 60+ or under 60 and disabled. Visit to learn more.

Low Cost, Accessible Transportation through OPED

Low cost taxi and wheelchair accessible transportation is available through Oakland Paratransit for the Elderly & Disabled Program (OPED). The program is providing accessible transportation to medical services and grocery stores during the shelter-in-place. Residents of Oakland and Piedmont that are age 65 or older or ages 18-69 with a mobility disability should call (510) 238-3036 for more information, and can apply online at

Contact the Human Services Department

Human Services Main Office
150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 4th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

Alameda County Oakland Community Action Partnership

Community Housing & Homelessness

Fiscal Office

Head Start

Human Resources

Oakland Fund For Children & Youth

Oakland Youth Advisory Commission

Oakland Unite

Senior Services

Sugar Sweetened Beverage