Prepare for a Holiday Season Like No Other With the Human Services Department

Date Posted: November 18th, 2020 @ 9:42 PM
Last Updated: November 18th, 2020 @ 10:47 PM
A photo of Talia Rubin standing in a hotel ballroom

At last year's Community Day of Thanks (above), we gathered in the Downtown Oakland Marriott. This year, the event goes remote!

Updates from the Human Services Department, November 2020

A Message from the Director of Human Services

I write this as Alameda County must return to the “purple tier” due to rising Covid cases, which we know disproportionally impacts our communities of color both financially and in terms of health. This is a challenging time — especially because many of us were beginning to plan for gathering with friends and family for the holidays. Below are resources for food, parental stress, job fairs, senior centers, and more. Please use them, reach out for support, or donate, if you can. In the midst of all of this, there are things for which we can be grateful.

  • After a long tense wait, we have an answer to who will lead us over the next four years. Record numbers of people voted. Others waited in long lines at night to cure their provisional ballots. It was truly inspiring.
  • California’s own, Kamala Harris, is the first woman VP, first black VP, first Asian-American VP. Oakland is in the house!
  • The State’s project Homekey funding is allowing Human Services and other city partners to substantially increase the permanent housing units available for and dedicated to our homeless neighbors – dormitories, hotels, and single-family homes –all as part of the solution.
  • City Council approved critical grants for food security – food cards for vulnerable residents for use at local small/ medium markets carrying fresh vegetables and groceries, and expansion of Meals on Wheels for homebound seniors.

At every level, the community is coming together to engage during this epochally challenging time. I am grateful to be part of this remarkable, resilient, and committed Oakland community.
— Sara Bedford, Director of Human Services

Key Resources

Thousands of Thanksgiving Dinners Will Be Served With a Side of Safety This Year

It’s time for the Human Services Department’s 29th Annual Thanksgiving dinner — but of course, it’s going to look a little different this year because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The dinner will now take place on Tuesday, November 24, with City staff and volunteers delivering meals to food banks between 11 am and 2 pm.

The Thanksgiving Dinner is part of the City’s Hunger Program, founded in 1985 during Mayor Lionel J. Wilson’s administration. With the support of donors and volunteers, the City typically serves thousands of low-income families, seniors, and persons experiencing homelessness with a hearty Thanksgiving meal in a communal, festive atmosphere. Here’s what’s different this year: The event is now called the “Community Day of Thanks,” it will be distributed around the city instead of at the Marriott in Downtown Oakland, and the City is going to provide 3,000 meals instead of the 2,000 from years past. For a list of locations for food distribution on November 24, click here.

How can you help?

The City is asking for monetary donations to support meal preparations. A donation of $26 will provide a meal for one guest and $104 for a family of four. Donations are tax deductible. Please make your checks payable to the City of Oakland Hunger Program, and mail to: City of Oakland Hunger Program, Attn: Talia Rubin, 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 4340, Oakland, CA 94612. Organizers are asking for donations of things like hats, gloves, gift cards, hygiene kits or T-shirts. Donations can be coordinated with Rubin at (510) 238-6590. Donations of food are not needed. Organizers are not requesting volunteers this year.

A Season of Gratitude: What Are You Grateful For?

We want to know: What is the most unexpected thing you are grateful for? Send your answer to to be included in the next Human Services Department newsletter. Here’s what Human Services Department staff had to say:

"Covid for allowing me to learn new ways of doing things and seeing how far I can be stretched (and still stretching – ouch!)"
– Mary Albright, Senior Services

"Quality time, space heaters, learning from others, good laughs, and waves."
— C'Mone Falls, Community Housing Services

"I’m thankful I woke up this morning! Thankful for the Love I have in my life and being able to just enjoy the simple stuff."
– Jendayi Santana, Senior Services

Big Thanks to the Team Behind the Head Start Lunch Rush

Three cheers for the City of Oakland Head Start’s central kitchen team! These dedicated chefs work tirelessly to feed Head Start students, and have been working especially hard since the COVID-19 shut down in March to make sure the kids continue to receive warm meals. This team of unsung heroes start cooking at 6 a.m. every day to prepare home-cooked meals for delivery by 11 a.m. — and we are all so grateful for their work delivering this critical service to Head Start families! Some of the students' favorite menu items include BBQ chicken, spaghetti, and yes, even quinoa! There are dozens of programs offering meal delivery around Oakland. Find out more here. Apply for Head Start here.

Looking for a Job? Attend a Virtual Job Fair

To connect unemployed Oakland residents with current job opportunities, the City of Oakland Workforce Development Board is hosting a virtual job fair series, with employers like Good Eggs, Home Depot, UPS, and more! November’s job fair is focused on healthcare and December’s job fair is focused on information technology. Register at For more information, contact Tamara Walker at

  • Healthcare Job Fair: Thursday, November 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Information Technology Job Fair: Thursday, December 17, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Speak Up for Alameda County's Low-Income Community and Apply for the AC–OCAP Board

Are you a low-income person with ideas for how the government can better serve low-income communities in Alameda County? Do you live in North Oakland? Or do you live in Alameda County, outside of Oakland or Berkeley? The Alameda County–Oakland Community Action Partnership (AC-OCAP) Community Action Agency needs your voice! AC-OCAP is seeking applicants to represent the low-income community of North Oakland and the wider Alameda County on its Community Action Partnership Administering Board. Each applicant must:

  1. be 18 years old
  2. be a resident of Oakland’s CDBG District 1 (click for a map here, including the Santa Fe and Bushrod neighborhoods) or a resident of Alameda County outside of Oakland and Berkeley
  3. complete and submit a short application, and
  4. submit ten (10) signatures from residents who are 18 years old or older and live within their district.

FOR OAKLAND DISTRICT 1, click here for the application for the AC-OCAP Board and here for more information. FOR ALAMEDA COUNTY, click here for the application for the AC-OCAP Board for Alameda County, and here for more information.

Still Time to Claim Your Stimulus Check from the IRS

Remember the “stimulus check” everyone was talking about back in the spring? If you never received your federal stimulus check — formally called the “Economic Impact Payment” — you still have a few days left to file a claim to receive one. If you or someone you know did not have income from work and do not normally file a tax return, you can register online to receive payment directly on The deadline is November 21, 2020. Don’t leave money on the table! Let United Way Bay Area help you claim your benefits: visit or call 2-1-1.

Opportunities to Volunteer in the Community This Holiday Season

Oaklanders know how to show up and support each other all
year round, but the holiday season is particularly full of opportunities to volunteer across the Oakland community.
Here are some ways to show up for your neighbors this November:

  • Volunteer at the Alameda County Community Food Bank! Help sort and pack food at the Oakland warehouse. Email for more info.
  • Volunteer with the Hunger Program! While the City of Oakland Hunger Program is currently only looking for financial support for the Community Day of Thanks dinner, you can also call (510) 238-7756 to support the Project Homeless Connect program.
  • For Seniors: Volunteer as a Foster Grandparent! Since 1965, Foster Grandparent volunteers have shared their wisdom and experience with children. Volunteers play a significant role in increasing one-on-one attention to at-risk and struggling children and providing the much needed attention for helping children’s self-esteem and success.
  • For Young People: Volunteer with the Unity Council! Children, teens and young adults are encouraged to become volunteers at The Unity Council, where they can make a lasting impact through service projects, office administration, and can help put on awesome events like the annual Dia de los Muertos.

Contact the Human Services Department

The Oakland Human Services Department exists to make our city a place that works for all. We offer free programs and provide public resources to community organizations that make sure all of our residents can access what they need to be safe, healthy and realize their full potential.

Human Services Main Office


150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 4th Floor

Oakland, CA 94612

Alameda County Oakland Community Action Partnership


Community Housing & Homelessness


Head Start


Oakland Fund for Children & Youth


Oakland Youth Advisory Commission


Senior Services


Sugar Sweetened Beverage


Summer Food Service Program