Probation During COVID-19: Feeding the Homeless
El Dorado Probation Youth and Staff Cook Over 3,000 Meals for Locals


In response to COVID-19, Governor Newsom authorized $150 million in March 2020 to establish Project Roomkey, a program that allows counties to provide shelter options for people experiencing homelessness to minimize the strain on local health care systems. Project Roomkey offers people experiencing homelessness exposed to or recovering from COVID-19 a safe place to properly quarantine outside of a hospital, especially if they are at high risk for medical complications.

El Dorado County’s Health and Human Services Agency quickly leased hotel properties to medically vulnerable homeless clients as well as provided nutritional resources. With a shortage of community-based and public providers offering meal services, they reached out to El Dorado County Probation for support. El Dorado Probation saw an opportunity to fulfill a much-needed service while providing staff and youth a way to support their community’s at-risk homeless population.

The Probation Department has a commercial-grade kitchen to serve meals to youth in the locked residential care facility, and with their dedicated probation staff willing to help, they eagerly provided food for those sheltering in the hotel. Head Chef Scott Ratcliff and his team Noreen Fematt-Galindo, Jesse Real, and Luis Munoz, began preparing (in addition to their daily service of meals to youth) three meals per day for the County’s Project Roomkey participants. These daily meals consist of a continental breakfast, a bag lunch, and a hot dinner for each client.

The youth in residence trained in meal preparation were thrilled to be part of this experience as they assisted and provided fundamental support for those in unfortunate conditions. From June 1st through the end of last year, El Dorado Probation kitchen staff prepared, packed, and distributed over 3,000 meals for Project Roomkey clients. Hard work and dedication made it possible for the local homeless populations to receive much-needed support while also providing youth the opportunity to get involved in the local community during an unprecedented time. 

Probation is the alternative to incarceration; Probation are trained experts prepared to successfully manage trauma and other needs of the adults and youth we serve; Probation connects service and need to enhance safety and restoration; Probation delivers sustainable community safety.