Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I think you are right about playing up the positives such as daddy being home more, getting to ride the bus (instead of mom taking you to/from school) and exploring free activities in the community. I've already sourced out a free martial arts "club" that the whole family can attend together, and several free local events.
The situation is slightly more complex because I'm a teacher in the same school my daughter attends. I logically know there is nothing shameful about needing help, but I am an intensely private person and it is hard to have my entire community aware of my troubles.
Honestly it is the school breakfast/lunch thing that is stressing us out the most (which is silly, since maybe the $200 shortfall before we buy any food should be the stress). But my eldest is a very picky eater. She likes only a very small range of foods. Thankfully, they are inexpensive ones such as corn tortillas, apples, and green beans. It hurts my heart to not put organic and minimally processed food in front of her for every meal, but we need every penny and free lunch is, well, free. Of course, if she flat out refuses to eat it I suppose the cost is a non-issue. At least the healthy food act means that the food is reasonably healthy and real (not heavily processed). Since we live in a small town most of the food is also made here on site, which I think also helps keep the health factor higher.
I will be applying for food aid. We make about $50 a week too much for the state food assistance plan, but we do qualify for WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) assistance. It isn't as much, but it will help us buy staples like fresh fruits, milk, and cereal. My eldest will age out of it in November, but we will still get a little help based on my younger daughter still qualifying. That same $50 a week also prices us out of utility assistance.
We are also going to be able to have both the kids on the state health care plan called CHP+. That $50 a week makes us eneligable for Medicade coverage, and I'm so grateful there is a plan in place to help us cover the kids for a very reasonable cost. I don't feel wonderful about not having coverage for my husband, but if we add him to my insurance we will be majorly underwater each month. We are trying to source out some short term disaster insurance that we can afford.
Clothing I am not too worried about because that is one thing I'm certain the grandparents will happily buy for us, and we also have several nice consignment/thrift stores locally if we need something. My husband and I can easily make due with what we have for a long time. (Hopefully this situation is not permanent.) I've also saved my eldest daughter's clothing for the younger, so really it is only my eldest that I would need to worry about.
And yes, we just moved the family at the end of June. So our support network here is not fully established yet. In many ways that makes it harder as I don't yet have a good friend nearby to lean on at this difficult time.