Pivoting to Pickup

East Bay school-lunch company Choicelunch now lets customers order staples online.

A Danville school-lunch program has recently shifted its efforts to bring fresh food from local distributors straight onto the plates of Bay Area consumers. Choicelunch serves lunches daily to 25,000 students. Closures required it to discover new ways of serving food. 

“We saw the frenzy and stockouts in the grocery stores but knew that our food-service distribution partners had excessive capacity,” said Choicelunch founder and CEO Justin Gagnon.

He built an online ordering platform — the Choicelunch Pantry — while partners Keith Cosbey and Ryan Mariotti researched sourcing ingredients. The pantry is now offering milk, meat, seafood, eggs, bread, and other staples. It’s accepting orders for pickup at its Danville kitchen and offers staples to consumers in Hayward, San Jose, and elsewhere. 

“Our goal right now is to help our community by getting food safely to our neighbors and help our people by keeping as many of them working as possible,” he said. “My own brother couldn’t believe that we can get eggs.”

alaMar to Serve Free Meals

Oakland’s alaMar Kitchen & Bar is about to start serving 1,500 free meals per week to restaurant workers who have been displaced and derailed by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Independent restaurants are at the center of the vibrant growth in America, chef Nelson German said in a statement. “If we don’t take a stand and do something now, there will not be an independent restaurant industry to speak of when the coronavirus crisis is over.”

Starting April 8, “in partnership with @makersmark and @leeinitiative @chefedwardlee, @chefnel4 and @dcpatterson, we will turn @alamaroakland into a relief center for restaurant workers who have been laid off or have had a significant reduction in hours and/or pay,” German wrote.

Those who can show some identifying paperwork to prove recent employment at a restaurant may collect meals between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday through Sunday evenings at the restaurant, where staff will provide free meals via contactless curbside pickup.

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