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Free Grab & Go Meals offered during remote days and over vacation week

Westfield Public Schools Food Services Director Rachel Kania stands by some of the 700 meals the department distributes daily. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

WESTFIELD – Food Services at the Westfield Public Schools will offer free hot Grab and Go meals for students during remote weeks and over the winter break, with the exclusion of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Rachel Kania, director of food services said during remote learning days through Jan. 15, all of the schools will be giving out bagged meals of one breakfast and one lunch during the times listed on the schedule below. Children don’t have to be present to pick up the meals, and families may go to any of the schools during the listed hours – they don’t have to go to their child’s school. No identification will be required.

Night time meals, available at Westfield Intermediate School and Westfield Middle School during remote learning days, will be served cold and will need to be reheated. All food should be refrigerated immediately and disposed of after five days.

During the winter break from Dec. 28 to Dec. 31, meals will only be available at Westfield Middle School from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“We decided to operate over the vacation,” Kania said, after surveying parents and finding out there was still a need for it. She said most of the staff will be off that week, but she asked for volunteers and will have one small crew at WMS. “Kids still have access to food, and parents can get a break and get some help,” she said.

During the remote learning days all of the schools will be open, and Kania said it will be the regular food services staff on hand at the schools. She said they were ready to start up the program when the decision was made to go full remote through Jan. 19.

“We were already doing this kind of service when we were phasing some of the kids in. We just switched modes back into what we were doing before with our emergency feeding,” Kania said. She also said none of the kitchen staff will be furloughed during this time.

“We’re paying all the staff, and keeping all the staff on hand, that’s why we’re going to have every school open,” she said, adding that it was a decision they made internally because they felt it was important to keep the staff working and provide food at all the schools. “It helps if people don’t have transportation, if people are walking to get the meals. There is easier access to all schools.”

Kania said food services will stick to the menus on the website and on their Facebook page at Westfield EATS. Any changes to the schedule will be posted, as will the menu during the holiday break after Christmas.

“We don’t have a menu for vacation week. We are going forward with that, I’m going to make a small menu for four days and will post it on FB and on the website for that specific week,” she said.

Kania said to date since the first COVID closure in March, Food Services has served over 300,000 meals. “The staff have done a phenomenal job, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Kania said, adding, “We’re happy to do it.”

“While I am still disappointed that we had to go fully remote for 14 school days, I am thrilled that our food services Department is able to continue providing free lunch and breakfast to our students. Our food service workers have gone above and beyond all school year and I very much appreciate how hard they continue to work on behalf of our students,” said WPS Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski..

The schedule for meals is as follows:

Dates of operation:
Dec. 21 to Dec. 23
Dec. 28 to Dec. 31 (Westfield Middle School only)
Jan 4. to Jan. 8
Jan. 11 to Jan. 15

HOT Grab & Go Meals will be offered at the following locations:

Westfield High School 11 a.m. to 12 noon
Westfield Technical Academy, 10:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Westfield Middle School 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.
Franklin Avenue, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Abner Gibbs, 11;30 to 1 p.m.
Paper Mill, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Southampton Road, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Westfield Intermediate School 11 a.m. to 12 noon and 4 to 6 p.m.
Munger Hill, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
HIghland Elementary, 11 a.m to 12:30 p.m.

Families can go to any school of their choosing for the meal pickup. “A lot of parents get confused. They can go to any school, because we have so many parents with children in multiple schools,” Kania said.

Children with food allergies may contact the Food Services office at 413-572-6493 to make arrangements. Medical documentation will be required by their school nurse.

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