WESTFIELD-Now in its ninth year, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield provides free weekday lunches to children to ensure they receive the nutrition needed to lead an active summer lifestyle.
“We offer this service because we want to make sure children ages three to 18 are receiving a nutritious meal at least once a day,” said Kellie Brown, director of operations.
On Wednesday morning, three city school cafeteria managers were busy in the kitchen of the South Middle School preparing 500 lunches to be distributed across the city – ranging from playgrounds to apartment complexes.
“All of our meals are prepared by the local schools so we follow the same guidelines as they do during the school year,” said Brown.
Kathy Andersen, Highland School’s cafeteria manager, was among the kitchen staff working on Wednesday, coordinating logistics at 9:30 a.m. with Beth Renaudette, food director at the Boys & Girls Club, and ensuring enough muffins, milk and strawberries would be delivered for the morning snack.
Andersen, a 28-year school employee, noted that by following state and federal guidelines, all lunches consist of a whole-grain bread, a protein, fruit, a vegetable and dairy product. Special meals are also prepared for children with allergies.
“The school’s director of food services and nutritionist plan all meals,” said Andersen.
Wednesday’s menu included a ham and cheese sandwich (gluten-free bread is available), carrot and celery sticks, a banana, chocolate chip cookie and milk. The alternative sandwich was peanut butter and jelly.
Cindy Stover, cafeteria manager at the Munger Hill School, and Jill Kordana, cafeteria manager at Abner Gibbs School, worked alongside Andersen and all relish the time spent in the kitchen preparing healthy meals. Stover has been employed with the city schools for more than 20 years and Kordana has been employed for 13 years.
“I enjoy the kids and want them to eat healthy,” said Stover.
Kordana echoed those sentiments.
“We like seeing the kids enjoy the food and eat it,” said Kordana. “We also like to see kids come back for seconds.”
Both women added they also enjoy making specialties throughout the summer including corn bread, snickerdoodle bread and apple crisp.
Summer food sites include:
- Chapman Playground, 50 St. Paul St., 1 to 1:30 p.m.
- Colonial Pine Acres, 50 Southampton Road, 11:30 a.m. to noon.
- Edgewood Apartments, 134 Union St., noon to 12:30 p.m.
- Hubbard Street Spray Park, 12:30 to 1 p.m.
- Sadie Knox Spray Park, 50 Prospect St., 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.
- Powder Mill Village Apartments, 126 Union St., noon to 1 p.m.
- South Middle School, 30 West Silver St., 12:50 to 1:20 p.m.
- Pheasant Hill Village, 25 Pheasant Hill Road, Feeding Hills, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. This site is only open to Pheasant Hill residents.
Brown noted that free breakfasts and lunches are also included in the Kidscape Summer Camp and Summer Theatre Camp at the club’s main facility.
For more information on the free lunch program, call (413) 562-2301. Most sites will be serving weekday lunches through Aug. 21.
“Every young person in greater Westfield is invited to come have lunch with us at one of the sites,” said Brown, adding, “All you need to do is show up.”