Buoying Boys & Girls: Collaborative effort keeps North Lake Tahoe kids, families fed during COVID-19

Kayla Anderson
Special to the Sierra Sun

The Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe has long been a staple service for North Lake Tahoe and Truckee children and teens, a comfortable place they can go to learn and play in a safe environment.

However, now with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Club’s offerings have been taken to a whole new level.

“Typically — in normal times — we do a dinner at our Kings Beach location five days a week for our members and in the summer, we’ll provide breakfast, lunch and a snack,” says Boys & Girls Club CEO Mindy Carbajal.

Now thanks to the pandemic, the Boys &Girls Club has shifted from providing meals to just kids to opening up dinner to entire families, “and ultimately anyone in the community who shows up,” Carbajal says.

This extended effort was kickstarted with a sizeable gift received from the Dave & Cheryl Duffield Foundation to help provide meals at the Incline Village Boys & Girls Club, and it has rallied the rest of the business community to follow suit.

The first family dinner service in the new COVID-19 era was provided on March 25 at the Incline Village and Kings Beach clubs, and then was implemented at its Truckee location on April 6. The Clubs started out serving three dinners a week at each of its three North Lake Tahoe locations but recently ramped it up to serving dinners five nights a week at all locations. As of last week, around 10,500 meals have been served.

“What’s really helped us move distribution is that many people in the business community and local restaurants are supporting this,” Carbajal said. “They are the ones making these meals happen. It’s a win-win for both the families that need food and it helps our restaurants stay afloat.”

She emphasized the dozen or so restaurants, food trucks, catering services, and others have made an incredible effort to help the Tahoe community. Each week local partners have also gifted produce bags to the Boys & Girls Club, helping to provide balanced meals to those in need.

“There have been so many organizations who’ve stepped up and everyone has been so instrumental in making this happen. I couldn’t even list all the names of those who have contributed,”

Carbajal added. She said that restaurants cooking and preparing the food has also taken the heat off their own kitchen, allowing the Boys & Girls Club to practice better social distancing and safety measures.

While serving more people meals, the Boys & Girls Club also quickly pivoted to launching its online virtual club to temporarily take place of its community gathering spaces. Staff put together captivating videos with imagination-sparking activities to help kids stay engaged and creative while being stuck at home. At the daily dinners, the Club hands out activity packs for kids with How-To instructions and materials that can range from slime kits to science experiments and friendship bracelets.

“We want families to know we’re still here, we’re thinking about them, and we’re just adapting to the situation and continuing what we do every day. It’s our community who has really made this happen, though,” Carbajal says.


On April 23, the Pioneer Cocktail Club in Tahoe City provided 200 pizzas, 360 meatballs, and 100 salads to about 400 families at the Kings Beach Boys & Girls Club (and donated food again at the April 30 dinner service).

Following the governor’s business closure order, the Pioneer Cocktail Club & Kitchen quickly shifted from being a dine-in restaurant and bar to selling groceries and necessary supplies through its website.

“We offer pretty much anything you are trying to get,” says Pioneer Cocktail Club Owner Brian Nelson, which includes everything from chicken breasts and milk to toilet paper and trash bags available through its online grocery portal at

Nelson emphasized that Tahoe Luxury Properties has been instrumental in organizing the effort with North Tahoe restaurants to help feed the hungry and that individual contributions help minimize the business’s out-of-pocket costs.

“We got an anonymous donor who contributed $1,500. It didn’t cover all of our costs, but it definitely helped,” Nelson said. “I believe that the people getting hit the hardest by this are those who are here working legally but have an affected immigration status, the ones who are out of work and can’t get financial assistance. Those are the people who’ve had their lives turned upside down by this. We want to help them first and make sure they’re fed.

“There has been a lot of collaboration to with other businesses and local restaurants as well, it’s not just us, and we’ll continue to do what we can to help the community,” Nelson said.

Kayla Anderson is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun based in South Lake Tahoe. Contact her at

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