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COVID-19 Resources for Families: How to Access Free Food, Childcare & Activities for Kids in San Diego County

The Covid-19 shutdowns are especially hard for families with children, but there are resources in San Diego County that can help.


Life has shifted for everyone due to COVID-19 and created new challenges, especially for families with children. In San Diego County, there are resources available to help.

Below, we have compiled a list of resources for accessing food, childcare, and activities. For a full list of food security and financial resources available to all San Diegans, please see our full Covid-19 Resource Guide.

Information is quickly changing, often within hours, but this list accurately reflects resources available at the time of publication. We will continue to update this list as necessary to reflect the latest information available. If you have updates or new information, please email


Critical Workers Camp (Limited Capacity)

Childcare for children aged 5-12, Monday-Friday, from 7AM - 6PM of parents . Cost is $150 for the full week. Thanks to a generous grant, this program, which includes lunch, is now free. Parents will need proof of employment to verify that you are a Critical Healthcare Worker. Items such as a work badge or a current pay stub will qualify; please bring this verification on the first day of camp.

Please see KROC’s website for other virtual camps and options.

Food and Meals

National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs

Schools in San Diego are currently closed, and many are providing breakfast and/or lunch in a grab-and-go takeaway format.

Eligibility: Meals are available for children, between the ages of 2-18. You do not need an ID, verification, or registration to pick up meals. Children must be present in order to receive the meals, and you can show up at any school listed, regardless if your child is a student there. Click here for an updated list from the County Office of Education on which schools are providing meals.

Emergency Nutrition, Diaper Bank and Mobile Shower Site

Community Through Hope will be open for drive-thru emergency services only. Drive-thru hours will be Tuesday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., with the line starting to form at 7:30 a.m. Visit

It’s All About The Kids (IAATK)

The Feed The Kids Food Pantry is still operating as normal. However, they are only able to serve existing registered families at this time.

San Diego For Every Child - COVID-19 Children’s Fund

This fund helps support childcare, food assistance, and remote learning during these times. Families continuing to work in essential service fields, while financially struggling, may be eligible to apply for a micro-grant. Ranging from $100-575. Apply here.

CalFresh/SNAP (Food Stamps/EBT)

You can apply online in just 10 minutes, and typically receive benefits within a month if you qualify. Benefits include $192 a month per household member on one EBT card. If you already have an EBT card, please note that grocery stores and restaurants that are open will continue to accept it as a form of payment. Click here for Farmers Markets that accept EBT cards.  

3-day Expedited Service offered to:

  • Those who have an income less than $150, or less than $100 on hand
  • Those who have a combined monthly income and money on hand that are less than their household’s combined monthly rent and utilities
  • Migrant or seasonal farm workers who have less than $100 right now

Women Infants and Children (WIC)

WIC is a nutrition assistance program that provides benefits for healthy foods, nutrition education to parents, caregivers, as well as breastfeeding support, and referrals to community resources. They offer various food packages, which you receive a check for to purchase specific foods with. You may qualify if you’re low-income, and either pregnant, breastfeeding a baby under the age of one, had a baby in the last six months, have a child under the age of 5, or experienced pregnancy loss, or termination. You can call 1-800-500-6411, or apply online. Click here for Farmers Markets that accept WIC checks.

CORE Gives

CORE is offering grants that support the children of employees in the food and beverage industry. Apply here.

Education and Activities for Children

At Home Learning: Where Children Matter (Free Service PreK-12)

KPBS, San Diego County Office of Education and San Diego Unified School District have partnered together for an initiative called At Home Learning: Where Children Matter. They offer videos, lesson plans, PBS LearningMedia collections, teacher training webinars, and tips and tools.

Wide Open School for Educators and Families

This program consists of over 25 different organizations that have come together to offer resources for lesson plans, schedules, live events, emotional well-being, various subjects, movement, arts, special needs, and much more.

Education Companies Offering Free Subscriptions due to School Closures

A seemingly never ending list of free subscriptions available to both students, and adults.

Free Educational Apps, Games and Websites

A list of free educational apps, games and websites. All free.

Educational Apps That Don’t Need Wi-Fi or Data

A list of educational apps for all ages, that don’t require wi-fi or data to access.

Free Online Events and Activities for Kids at Home

Events and activities such as virtual storytimes, music classes and performances, cooking classes, lesson plans, tours, games and resources to keep your kids and students occupied.

30 Virtual Field Trips for Kids

A teacher has compiled over 30 virtual field trips you can take with your kids, including national parks. No need to worry about traffic, packing, or entrance fees as these are all free.  

Virtual Museum Tours

Travel and Leisure has compiled 12 virtual museum tours from the most famous museums in the world. You can visit other immersive museum exhibits here. Who says you can’t get cultured from your couch?

San Diego Zoo!

The San Diego Zoo has a website just for children, with livestreams, videos, activities and games.

Explore Mars

You can explore the surface of Mars by NASA’s Curiosity Rover.

Activities for Toddlers

A list of indoor creative ideas for your busy toddlers.

Take a Virtual Farm Tour

FarmFood 360 in Canada has over 11 virtual tours of their farms, including pigs, cows, minks, eggs, apples and others.

California State Parks PORTS Home Learning Programs for K-12

California State Parks are conducting interactive live broadcastings with their interpretive rangers from across the state. These experiences are held throughout the week, via Zoom.

Check out their schedule here.

Financial Support for Parents

Caregivers - Paid Family Leave (PFL) Claim

If you are unable to work due to caring for someone ill, or someone who has been diagnosed by a medical professional with COVID-19, you are able to file a PFL claim.

PFL provides eight weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to their need to take time off from work to take care of a seriously ill family member, or bond with their newborn child. Benefits amount to approximately 60-70% of your wages each week. Generally, the process takes about three weeks to complete and provide payment.

Click here to file a PFL claim.

School Closures - Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits

If your children’s school is closed, and you have to miss work due to caring for them, then you might be eligible for UI Benefit.

To be considered, you must have no other care options, and must be unable to continue working your normal hours remotely.

Click here to file an Unemployment Insurance claim.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under the FMLA, covered employers must provide employees 12-weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons, which may include the flu.

Employees on FMLA leave are entitled to the continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms as existed before they took FMLA leave.

Click here to access FMLA forms.

Pediatric Healthcare and Mental Health Services

Rady’s Children Hospital - Nurse Advice Hotline

Call 858-966-8399, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.,seven days a week.

Telecare at Scripps

For Scripps Health patients, a hotline has been set up: 888-261-8431 (staffed 7 am – 9 pm).

Helping Children Cope with Changes Resulting from COVID-19.

An article that provides resources and tips for anyone caregiving for children at this time.

#COVIBOOK for Kids (Multiple Languages)

A supportive book that explains COVID-19 to children under 7 years of age.

Free Mindfulness Sessions for Providers impacted by COVID-19

Mindfulness Live Streams and Recordings

The Sanford Institute at UCSD is providing daily live streams and recordings of mindfulness sessions aimed at providers impacted by COVID-19. View them here.

Palouse Mindfulness A  free, online full-length Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course.  

Crisis Hotlines

For those who need to talk to someone, here are various hotlines that are available.

Suicide Hotlines

Sexual Assault and Abuse Hotlines

Christina Kantzavelos
Christina Kantzavelos is a freelance writer, as well as the owner/editor of award-winning, gluten-free and health-conscious travel and lifestyle blog, @BuenQamino. She enjoys writing about food, travel, health, culture and sustainable-living in San Diego, and beyond.
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